After watching Ali Velshi fill in on some of CNN's coverage over the holidays on this "fiscal cliff" debacle, I would definitely be happy to see him take Erin Burnett's place on CNN in the evening. He corrected wingnut Rep. Tim Huelskamp on the air this Tuesday and the following evening after the House finally voted to pass the Senate's bill, he didn't let Rep. Tom Cole get away with trying to blame S&P's downgrade of our credit rating on the budget deficit.
After Cole again explained that he was happy with the Republicans passing this deal because they got a lot of what they liked and that they planned on leveraging the debt ceiling to get some of the spending cuts they want, Cole said this:
COLE: We didn't have a downgrade because of the debt ceiling debate. We had it because we weren't dealing with our deficit. This is...
VELSHI: That's not entirely true. (CROSSTALK) No, no, It's not entirely true.
COLE: It actually is. (CROSSTALK)
VELSHI: Congressman, I really enjoy talking to you. I think you're one of the best around. It's just not entirely true.
COLE: Look, you can't have trillion dollar deficits for four consecutive years and have it going forward...
VELSHI: Give me five minutes and I'll pull out S&P's report. I mean, I'm not the guy to have this fight with. I don't know as much about Congress as you do, but I do know about this.
Velshi went on to give him a hard time about the Republicans not being able to get their act together in the House and he's exactly right, that report did not blame the deficit. It blamed the politicians not being able to work together.
When Cole attempted to put most of the blame for the Simpson-Bowles commission going nowhere onto President Obama, Velshi reminded him that their vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan voted against the plan as well. Velshi didn't give Democrats a pass for their part in any of this brinksmanship we've seen going on, but he made sure to let the viewers know we're dealing with a really dysfunctional House right now.
It was nice to at least see the Representative not be allowed to get away with just completely revising history. I'd have been happier after watching this if he wasn't allowed to pretend that it's going to be acceptable behavior for them to continue their hostage taking during this upcoming debt ceiling debate. I've still got my issues with Velshi, mainly due to the fact that's he's on board for austerity measures and cuts to our social safety nets and like so many of them, seems obsessed with the deficit instead of getting Americans back to work. But compared to Burnett, who he's been filling in for, he's a breath of fresh air. It would really be nice to see more of these anchors do what he did here again, which is call out a politician on the spot when they lie on the air.
For a little reminder, here's what that S&P report said about the downgrade:
- We have lowered our long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to 'AA+' from 'AAA' and affirmed the 'A-1+' short-term rating.
- We have also removed both the short- and long-term ratings from CreditWatch negative.
- The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation 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.
- More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.
- Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government's debt dynamics any time soon.
- The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. We could lower the long-term rating to 'AA' within the next two years if we see that less reduction in spending than agreed to, higher interest rates, or new fiscal pressures during the period result in a higher general government debt trajectory than we currently assume in our base case.