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. Garrido

    Some of us on here are silly, do you all remember what Bin Laden said before and after they took out the WTC. He said he and his followers would bankrupt America and then destroy them well guess what it's working, why because of all this petty infighting amongst Americans in our govt and to each other. It is sad how quick most of us forget then lash out, until we find our center as a country again there will be continued chaos both economically and domestic.

    August 5, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • michaelfury


      August 5, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DAVID

    mitch mcconnell thank you for serving America....NOT!!!

    August 5, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AlanNM

    Tea Baggers have no idea what this mean. When they find out, they will make something and carry on. If the GOP does not stand up to these folks the consequences will be worse

    August 5, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Beverly NC

    Let's get the truth out there. The reason we got downgraded has nothing to do with the strength of our bonds or our economy. It is based on our POLITICS – the fact that REPUBLICANS were willing to take our nation to the brink of economic collapse for idealogical theater versus any real crisis. S&P downgraded the U.S. because REPUBLICANS refuse to compromise on ANYTHING and S&P believes REPUBLICANS will continue to refuse to compromise on anything related to our economic recovery. ALL economists agree to have an economic recovery and JOBS, there MUST be REVENUE created to stimulate the economy. Republicans refuse to let ANY revenue into the government – even easy thngs like ending subsidies for oil companies, ending tax loopholes so corporations pay ZERO taxes etc.
    Republicans would rather destroy America than ask the wealthy to pay their fair share and help America recover from this Republican- created economic mess.
    Republicans blackmailed President Obama in the debt ceiling "deal" and what Republicans demanded hurts our economy, kills jobs, and ensure NO economic recovery. It is what Republicans wanted because as their Senate Leader McConnell says often " the sole goal is to destroy Obama".
    Republicans do not care about the PEOPLE. about JOBS, about PEOPLE LOSING THEIR HOMES, and have defunded our education system. taken money away from job training programs, and every other PEOPLE program from food for poor children to unemployment insurance.
    Republicans want America to fail and they are doing a good job of betraying the PEOPLE they swore to serve. They came one step closer to destroying America today by their total unwillingness to compromise to help America's economy and thus we got a downgrade to AA by S&P.
    You can thank your Republican traitor by VOTING EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN OUT OF OFFICE IN 2012.
    You can also support the JOBS PROGRAMS President Obama has been trying to pass for 2 years with Republicans filibustering every one in the Senate. Republicans are NOT for JOBS. nor are their laughable "job creators" they protect at great cost to the American economy.

    August 5, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennie


      August 5, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meeee

      I am a non-denominational political advocate, just so you know. You can cry about republicans all you want, but they are at least trying to find a way to cut the spending. Democrats want to spend all the money they can to pay for all the people who don't want to do anything but take handouts. Both sides have plenty of flaws, but at least the republicans want to stop our debt from increasing. Democrats will spend us dry.

      August 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      about as concise and clear as it gets.

      August 5, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dont Blame Bush

    Thatts just such a lame comment. Wasnt Obama a Senator for three years before the crisis. Oh yes and he DID NOTHING but now claims he would have done something. I guess a Senator is a do nothing position. But he didnt show up for work for 2.5 years. Did he pay the US his pay for not showing up? Nope. What did you expect ast Pres?

    August 5, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Robert B

    The stupidest president cleaned out the cash cow and then left the token president to take the fall. Typical good ole boy brotherhood racism. The south finally did win the war and destroyed the entire nation while doing it. Nothing off their shoulders. We all saw it coming and the record breaking refusal of the federal government to enforce any laws let it happen. More damage to the U.S. than all wars combined, our own politicians.

    August 5, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. obamayakyak

    Whenever I want to be entertained by half-wits and Obamist toadies I drop in on a CNN site and watch the comments roll by.

    August 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. George

    Obama finally got his wish..... his birthday wish that is, you could see it coming from way over the pond. Another second term of this man and the US will be for all intents and purposes in banana republic status. One notch down, two more to go.

    August 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. steveNYC

    The ONLY reason for the downgrade is our MASSIVE DEFICIT! Haters want to blame the other side for political reasons only!

    August 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dv

    Make one of the Tparty idiot as Prez and let him ablolish all taxes of the super rich, spent more money on wars and their defence contractor friends and let us see how they will bring jobs and improve the American economy .T party the solution to Americas problems

    August 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Warren

    If these guys at rating agencies wanted to keep their remaining (if any) credibility they had to move. Still their credibility is in ruins and their future questioned. As for the US: it is not enough anymore to have the privilege to print the greenback like hell inflating debt, simply not enough to keep the AAA.

    August 5, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ghandigee

    This is the result of our politicians creating theatrics while perpetually running for office rather than taking care of the countries business. The useless votes and rhetoric by Boehner, Reid, Pelosi and the Tea Party did nothing but to bring this situation on as the raing agencies wait for our politicians to get serious and realistic.This present congress is running us into the ground while they avoid the tough decisions. Raise taxes,close loop holes, cut the deficit,stop corporate welfare and quit bleeding the poor and middle class. If the wealthy were the job creators where are the jobs? They have had record income and profits for over 2 yrs.

    August 5, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DAVID

    we spent all that money going after bin laden for this???thank you gop!!! for giving us so much debt and interest that has clean our coffers!!!

    August 5, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jon Durham

    The entire US fiat – monetary system is based upon irredeemable debt. We borrow $10 at interest....the $10 is circulated but the interest does not exist. It never has. The Fed system was designed for perpetual debt. This is what the Tea Party idiots, and many more people do not have a basic understanding of. They are trying to equate a fiat economy with their wifes check book. You can not allow simpletons to try and run this stuff. They relate well to average Joe cause average Joe understands his wifes check book too. But he does not understand the complexities of a fiat monetary system that measures itself not in how much we owe or how much we print or how much more we borrow. It measures itself, for the most part, by the confidence we display in our ability to repay WHATEVER WE OWE. The amount is almost meaningless. What you DO NOT do is what the Tae Party just did. Stage a Broadway Theatrical for the entire world depicting how terrified they are of our debt and our ability to repay it.

    Send these people home or this crashes in our life time and you get to see what a Ron Paul economy looks like. Don't get me wrong. I like Ron. He's about as straigh a shooter as you'll find. But this vision of limiting trade and currency to intrinsic valued comodities is stone age baloney. Growth becomes next to impossible and a whole lot of people starve in the streets before we reach an equlibrium to operate only on what you can trade in hard value. Convincing people to trade slips of intrinsicly worthless paper for food wioth which to survive is one of the most ingenious things ever done. It has motivated and nutured the most amazing innvations and human fulfillment in the history of man kind. And these idiots want to tear it all down and go back to trading rocks for goods and services.

    Folks....yo don't want Billy Bob running your country. As much as you may not like people smarter than you, as much as they may stick in yur craw and as much as they may seem pompous and condescending....... YOU WANT THE SMARTEST PEOPLE WE GOT RUNNING THIS. SEND BILLY BOB AND COMPANY HOME.

    August 5, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennie

      this is seriously the best comment i've ever read. thank you.

      August 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. steveNYC

    The DEMS had full control of the House AND Senate for 2 years – could have easily passed a debt ceiling increase, but they chose not to so that they could blame the GOP later. They didn't even bother to pass a budget for either year. The people are NOT stupid and will not buy the "blame the tea party" B.S.. Nice try!

    August 5, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon Durham

      Steve, the Tea Party are well intentioned people. However, all this talk of paying off the debt betrays their ignorance of our economic system. MOST people, TP or not do not understand it. But suffice to say that making your goal to pay off the US debt is just not REAL. It can't be done. The system was designed from day one to NEVER be paid off. The simple reduction:

      We borrowed $100 from the Rothschilds and friends AT INTEREST. Repayable only in US currency.

      The Trasury is authorized to issue $100. We now have a total of $100 in the US economy.

      We owe $110. Remember the interest? It has NEVER been printed, circulated or represented in any form in the economy.

      The Tea Party solution is to pay the debt back....so we collect EVERY SINGLE DIME WE HAVE AND GIVE IT BACK. $100. WE'RE STILL $10 IN THE HOLE AND HAVE NO MONEY.

      So we borrow $100 more. We now owe $100 + the first $10 in interest and then new $10 in interest.....

      Do you get it now? That's how the US Fed – Fiat system works, in a nut shell. You can't pay it back. It is designed in SPECIFIC to be irredeemable.

      Now, of course ROn Paul and company are right, this is a horribly flawed, near criminal system. We are in the eternal debt of some folks UNTIL........ it reaches critical mass and crashes like a crippled duck. Then all hell breaks loose, world wide, people starve and die, food riots, basicaly you get the ultra conservative utopia, next to no government, no regulation, weapons flow freely.....Somolia goes global. Republican paradise.

      The other option is to stop freaking out because a handful of regular Joes just figured all this out and decided that our system isn't fair and it's set up all screwy and dishonest and benefits a handful of elites.....

      We have what we have in the US cause we periodically, over the last 100 years or so, have handed out regualr asswhoopins and IOUs. Some people need to understand it, accept it and live with it or a bunch of people are gonna get a big hurt here, instead of far away where we usually arrange for the poverty to go. And that's the hard truth of America.

      August 5, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
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