By Ria Novosti
Leading Republicans accused the U.S. president and his economic team of a failure of leadership this weekend after the Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the United States’ top-notch AAA credit score by one notch to AA-plus for the first time ever on Friday.
Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann, Senator Jim DeMint and House Speaker John Boehner called for President Barack Obama to demand Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s resignation.
Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee in 2008, said that much of Washington’s dysfunction stems from President Barack Obama’s “failure” to lead.
“I agree that there is dysfunction in our system, but a lot of it has to do with the failure of the president to lead,” he said on Sunday.
S&P made the downgrade over concerns about the country’s record budget deficits and rising debt burden. In addition to the downgrade, S&P issued a “negative” outlook for the United States, meaning that a further downgrade may follow within the next two years.
The Obama administration reacted with anger to the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, saying that the New York-based firm’s estimates were “deeply flawed.”
Larry Summers, former director of the National Economic Council under President Barack Obama, agreed that the U.S. will pay its debts. “S&P’s track record has been terrible and as we’ve seen this weekend its arithmetic is worse,” Summers said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “So there’s nothing good to say about what they’ve done.”
The White House accused the agency of manipulating the facts and making a $2 trillion error in its rating calculations.
John Chambers, the chairman of Standard & Poor’s sovereign debt ratings, estimated that it could take between nine and 18 years for the nation to regain its AAA credit rating.
“We’ve had five governments that lost their AAA rating and then got it back. The amount of time that it took for those five range from nine years to 18 years, so it takes a while,” Chambers said in an interview with ABC TV.
S&P said last-minute legislation passed in Congress earlier this week to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and avert a financial default “fell short” of easing the nation’s crippling deficit.
The bill, passed on Tuesday just ten hours before the expiry of a deadline to raise the U.S. borrowing limit, increases the federal debt ceiling by up to $2.4 trillion from the current $14.3 trillion, and reduces the fiscal deficit by at least $2.1 trillion over ten years.
In fiscal year 2010, the United States spent $414 billion on interest payments to the holders of the national debt, or 2.7 percent of GDP, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.