As news of the Standard and Poor's downgrade of America's credit rating from AAA to AA+ reverberated into the weekend, Republican presidential hopefuls used the event to showcase what they see as President Obama's flawed leadership.
The United States has never experienced a credit rating downgrade. So, when Standard and Poor's announced its assessment on Friday that the U.S. AAA credit rating was adjusted down a notch to an AA+ position, the resulting political theater was certain to center on a White House that has embarked on the greatest spending spree the country has ever experienced.
And with the 2012 presidential election just 14 months away, the Republican presidential candidates sought to tether President Obama to the S&P downgrade, citing what they see as his policies and his perspectives and his failure to lead.
“America’s creditworthiness just became the latest casualty in President Obama’s failed record of leadership on the economy,” Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a statement on Friday, according to CNN. “Standard & Poor’s rating downgrade is a deeply troubling indicator of our country’s decline under President Obama. His failed policies have led to high unemployment, skyrocketing deficits, and now, the unprecedented loss of our nation’s prized AAA credit rating.”
The White House sought to correct some of the S&P math, saying the financial market intelligence firm overlooked $2 trillion in its assessment of America's credit stature.
“I understand the U.S. Treasury is going back to Standard and Poor’s to say that a two trillion dollar mathematical error by S&P contributed to the downgrade,” Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said in a statement, as CNN reported. “So, in addition to blaming President Bush for all of its problems, now the White House is blaming S&P – but this happened on the President's watch – and he has to deal with it.”
But S&P downgraded the U.S. over concerns it had that the American political establishment was unable to work cohesively toward a reasonable and financially sound end result on the national debt. Polarization in American politics was the driver in the S&P action.
However, the GOP presidential contenders saw the matter as the result of a rudderless White House that is addicted to spending policies that have yet to yield a turnaround in unemployment or in the housing market or in confidence in the nation as a whole.
“I’m calling on the president of the United States to come back to the White House, address the American people before the markets open on Monday and give us his positive plan for putting the ratings back up to the AAA rating.,” Minnesota Congresswoman and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said on Saturday, according to The New York Times.
While Bachmann did echo the S&P concerns over partisan gridlock, she reiterated her perspective that this is a White House without leadership.
“The responsibility is of those in Washington, D.C., who put the deal together,” Mrs. Bachmann said, according to The New York Times. “But the real problem in all of this is that President Obama has failed to give leadership on this issue.”