S&P downgrades U.S. credit rating
August 5th, 2011
09:44 PM ET

S&P downgrades U.S. credit rating

[Updated at 9:44 p.m. ET] Referring to the Obama administration's contention that Standard & Poor's analysis of the government's finances was off by about $2 trillion, a Treasury Department spokesperson said: "A judgment flawed by a $2 trillion error speaks for itself."

The Standard & Poor's rating agency announced Friday evening that it has downgraded the U.S. credit rating to AA+ from its top rank of AAA.

On Friday afternoon, hours before S&P publicly announced the downgrade, the agency revealed its plans to the Obama administration and sent an analysis to the Treasury Department. The senior administration official said the analysis inflated U.S. deficits by $2 trillion.

Treasury analysts contacted S&P and challenged the analysis, and S&P acknowledged the mistake, the official said. But S&P said it still would stick with its decision to downgrade the United States' credit rating, according to the official.

"This is a facts-be-damned decision," the senior official said. "Their analysis was way off, but they wouldn't budge."

The official the administration can do nothing now but hope that S&P's decision and analysis faces outside scrutiny.

"These guys make Congress look good," the official said of S&P.

[Updated at 8:59 p.m. ET] Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's on Friday downgraded the credit rating of the United States, stripping the world's largest economy of its prized AAA status.

In July, S&P placed the United States' rating on "CreditWatch with negative implications" as the debt ceiling debate devolved into partisan bickering.

To avoid a downgrade, S&P said the United States needed to not only raise the debt ceiling, but also develop a "credible" plan to tackle the nation's long-term debt.

In its report Friday, S&P ruled that the U.S. fell short: "The downgrade reflects our opinion that the ... plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics."

S&P also cited dysfunctional policymaking in Washington as a factor in the downgrade. "The effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges."

iReport.com: What does this mean for the U.S. economy? Share your thoughts on video.

[Initial post, 7:15 p.m.] The Standard & Poor's rating agency served the Obama administration with notice Friday afternoon that it planned to downgrade the U.S. government's AAA credit rating, an administration official told CNN.

But S&P has yet to make its ruling public, and the source told CNN the agency is reconsidering after the administration challenged S&P's analysis of the government's finances.

The source, a senior official involved in the discussions, said the agency was off by "trillions" in its economic model and was now working to revise its analysis.

S&P did not return repeated calls for comment.

The official described the talks as a "moving target" and said "it's clear some people there still want to go forward" and downgrade U.S. debt.

Rumors swirled for most of the day Friday that S&P was preparing to make its move. But even several hours after the market close, official notice had yet to materialize.

soundoff (678 Responses)
  1. Joeymom

    Thank you, Congress, for playing chicken with the economy. You lost. Jerks.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. amazed2

    Congratulations to the cult that is the GOP. Your drive to destroy America is taking shape. All for a vote right?!? Republicans and baggers, fighting our President and our country all the way while fighting to clean up the tragedy that was GWB.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • zlul

      you sure seem to hate the GOP so much. Ever look at what the Democrats have done to the economy? You know Clinton was the one who deregulated derivatives and has even personally said he's to blame for where the economy is today. You know Democrats controlled the president, house, and senate until jan 2011, and today still control 2 of those 3? But yes, its easier to blame someone else than to take responsibility and man up.

      August 5, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rohit

    They are going to just there and watch and working calss just get hurts

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. steveNYC

    Cant blame the GOP or the TEA PARTY – they control one half of one branch of government for 6 months! The Dems controlled the White House and ALL of congress for TWO YEARS – didn;t pass a single budget, refused to raise the debt cap when they could have. And this downgrade is due to the DEFICITS, (the "tea-baggers" reduced them)!

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • mary

      It wasn't just the deficit debate but the fight that signaled no cooperation in raising revenue. That is totally the Fop's fault

      August 5, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Americanabroad

      So you're saying that the 2 years is what matters? What about the 8 years before that, you know where we spent $3 trillion on an unnecessary war? Guess that doesn't count? The financial crisis that the republicans sat and watched unfold? Yep that must have been Obama's fault too. The country is being torn apart by sore losers (GOP) who will do anything to discredit a democrat at all costs,
      And this time they used our economy, our well being, an financial security as a pawn and lost. Good luck to all of us! We will be speaking Chinese in 20 years.

      August 5, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*jo

      Oh but I do blame the GOP and tea party. They were elected supposedly because america wanted to change washington and oh yeah they were going to create jobs. I blame them because instead of being adults and doing a clean vote to raise the debt ceiling, they held the country hostage. In all fairness they don't desrve all of the blame. I blame those individuals who sat at home, didn't vote and allowed these teabaggers the chance to get to Washington. Boehner has to be the worst speaker, ever. By the way, where are the jobs?

      August 5, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sanity

      The cut was done because the deficit reduction plan is a joke. The Tea Party is the only group that had the right idea. If the Ryan plan had passed, we would not have our rating cut. What could be more obvious?

      August 5, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Goodegyptian

    Al Qaeda have won the financial battle against the United States. They just keep attacking us in order to bring down our economy since they blew up the World Trade Center for 10 years!! Wars are the worst way to spend too much money over one enemy leader who controls his small terrorist/thief group. We should have never invaded their countries and we could have saved trillion dollars and kept economy flowing normally. Wars are very bad for business. If you want to endless war, your economy will never survive

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Paul

    Hang on America. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. j in cali

    TYVM Teabaggers, not.
    Joe the Plumber plz keep your day job.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sanity

      Joe the Plumber was minding his own business when Obama interrupted him and Joe told him the truth. Too bad Obama is too stupid to listen.

      August 5, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jason

    But s&p had no problem stamping AAA on subprime mortgage debt? Frigging joke.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. adam

    Honestly, just to all those who lay blame on one man... how is it at all possible that this is Obama's fault? It seems entirely ridiculous to place all the blame on one person, and if you are someone who does, I would hope you might reflect from reading this and realize that your analysis of the world is not entirely correct.

    There's a saying by the Buddha that says something like "There never has been, there isn't, and there never will be someone who is 100% to blame". I think that this certainly applies here.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • BeenThere222

      You are asking people to think? Wow, not even congress does that! It's all about isms and ideology. Welcome to the idiocracy. Dang shame!

      August 5, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joel

    Its about time, 14 trillion dollars in debt and nowhere near to pay it off, it should had gone to 1 star rating, thats the politicians for u, all they do is sit and debate and no action.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mike1952

    No surprise. No surprise at all. Hmm. Maybe we can bomb or scam our way back to AAA. (Really, that's what they're probably thinking in D.C.!)

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jacobs

    GOP promised jobs to fix the s=economy their boy bush wrecked where are the jobs???

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sanity

      You probably really believe that unemployment was higher under Bush than Obama. Scary part is you probably vote, too.

      August 5, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CyndyP

    Freaking Republicans – they got their wish of ruining the U.S. and blaming it on Obama. I HOPE THEY BURN IN HELL!

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BeenThere222

    Surprised they had the guts to do it. We've been past point of no return for a while. The 14th Amendment says the debt can not be questioned. It has to be paid. Fear not, we have a technology – the printing press. The default will be in the value of the dollar. Goodbye reserve currency!

    August 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. KenAndrews

    Can I get a big "Whatever"? This is the same ratings agency that stamped AAA on increasingly risky mortgage bundles in the lead-up to the crash in 2007 and 2008. Obama should call them on this crap.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
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