In a July 14 report, the S&P laid out conditions for preventing a downgrade, including a $4 trillion deficit reduction over 10 years. Washington’s recent debt deal accounts for only $2.1 trillion to $2.4 trillion over 10 years.
The downgrade is a warning from S&P to Washington to reach a deeper set of deficit-cutting measures to avoid a further downgrade or a ratings drop from another ratings agency – either of which could more seriously hurt the US economy.
According to the S&P’s own statement, the downgrade primarily reflects a lack of confidence in policy makers. “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," the S&P said in a statement.
It appears Washington has gotten the message. President Obama said Friday that the government faced a downgrade, “Not because we didn’t have the capacity to pay our bills – we do – but because we didn’t have a AAA political system to match our AAA credit rating.”