S & P Downgrades U.S. Credit Rating From AAA To AA+


As John already posted in the breaking news story, S&P has went ahead and downgraded the United States credit rating from AAA to AA+. Rachel talked to Rep. Barney Frank who is the former Chair of the House Financial Services Committee and the Washington Post's Ezra Klein about tonight's news, but first she went through some of the details that went on this evening.

Rachel Maddow read some of this part of S&P's decision to go ahead with the downgrade:

In its statement, S&P said that it had changed its view "of the difficulties of bridging the gulf between the political parties" over a credible deficit reduction plan.

S&P said it was now "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 anytime soon."


Barney Frank blasted Standard & Poor's for their poor record during the meltdown of the financial service industries and felt that they were trying to over compensate now for past mistakes. He also criticized them for being too lienent with their ratings on private enteprise, while being too harsh with their ratings of government from the federal level right on down to the states and local governments.

When asked if the recent debacle by our politicians in Washington over raising the debt ceiling was responsible for this happening, Frank pushed back and said if anything, this proved that ultimately the full faith and credit of the United States was not something that could be allowed to be defaulted on.

Ezra Klein wasn't quite as charitable about Congressman Frank's assessment on whether our politicians were at all responsible for this happening and here's more from his column from just before this decision was made -- Five thoughts on the potential S&P downgrade:

Tyler Cowen has six useful thoughts here. I’d add a few more:

1) S&P is downgrading their estimation of our political system, not our actual ability to pay our debts. Indeed, the past 36 hours offered a stunning demonstration of the market’s faith in our ability to pay our debts. The panic sent investors rushing to buy Treasuries, sending yields on 10-year Treasuries to 2.4 percent -- that’s almost nothing -- and demonstrating that American debt is still considered the safest bet in the world. That vote of confidence under real world conditions is far more important than anything S&P says.

2) Of course S&P is downgrading our political system. Did you see the nonsense we pulled over the past few months? The Republican Party took the country to the brink of default, and for what? A smaller and less certain deficit-reduction deal than they could have gotten if they had been willing to compromise with the Democrats. And then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said these default-driven deals would be the norm around Washington from now on. Why shouldn’t S&P downgrade our debt? Read on...


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