AA as an absolute state of emergency: The downgrade of creditworthiness has hit the world’s largest economy hard. President Obama is trying to lure Republicans to the table for new talks, but the party reflexes in Washington that led to the downgrade in the first place are just repeating themselves.
Americans call it the blame game: the political game that always begins in an unfavorable situation where none of the political players wants to take responsibility. In the U.S., debate is breaking out over who bears responsibility for the debt disaster.
Since ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgraded the credit rating of the largest economy in the world from AAA to AA+, the White House and Congress, Republicans and Democrats, continue to accuse one another, with occasional railings against the ratings agency. Everyone agrees on one thing: The situation is serious.
The criticism of the ratings agency led to the conclusion that nerves in the White House are frayed: Government circles let it be known that the prevailing opinion is that the S&P analysis exhibits “fundamental flaws.” The U.S. Department of Treasury has confronted the ratings agency with calculation errors. President Barack Obama has the most to lose in this fight; he is the one who stepped up with a promise to reconcile the deadlocked position of the parties in Washington.
After the first shock had been digested, Obama’s spokesperson explained that the president believes “it is important that our elected leaders come together to strengthen our economy and put our nation on a stronger fiscal footing.”
For the time being, Republicans will not grant him this favor. The Grand Old Party wants to blame the sitting president for the lost credit rating. Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and perhaps Obama’s most promising challenger, said, “America’s creditworthiness just became the latest casualty in President Obama’s failed record of leadership on the economy.”
Michele Bachmann, figurehead for the right-wing tea party movement and, like Romney, contender for the Republican presidential nomination, was more concrete: She challenged Obama to throw his secretary of the Treasury out of office. According to Fox News, Bachmann called for Obama to “seek the immediate resignation of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and to submit a plan.”
Democrats, in turn, see the rating downgrade as an opportunity to make Republicans, above all the tea party, responsible. Their creed: Driven by the tea party, the Republicans reduced the nation to the lowest common denominator and prevented Obama’s proposed grand bargain.
Who’s Suppressing What?
Politico quotes Democratic Sen. Chris Coons: "Republicans turned the debt ceiling debate into a hostage crisis and last night we saw its first casualty."
The AA rating has apparently unleashed exactly those political reflexes that led to the downgrade in the first place.
John Boehner, speaker of the House and one of the leaders of the debt compromise negotiations, grumbled about Democrats procrastinating and quoted the S&P report, although he ignored the fact that the report also calls for raising taxes, something that Republicans have continually rejected.
On the other side, according to The Washington Post, Timothy M. Kaine, head of the Democratic National Committee until April, railed at the stubbornness of the Republicans during the debt negotiations, also quoting the S&P report, but suppressed that the report also urges savings in the areas of health care and welfare.
The blame game is in full swing in Washington. In a press conference, S&P has already indicated what will happen if that does not change: Further downgrades of creditworthiness are possible.