Mainstream Media Ignores S&P Attack On Republicans
Have you seen, anywhere, in any media, or even heard reported or repeated on NPR, the following sentence? “We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act.”
It’s right there on Page 4 of the official Standard & Poors “Research Update” – the actual report on what they did and why – published on August 5th as the explanation for why they believe Congress – and even the Gang of Twelve – will be unable to actually deal with the US debt crisis.
Perhaps it’s just lazy – the bullet points at the beginning of the report don’t mention the Republicans or taxes, but instead just say, for example (part of one of six quick bullet-points): “[T]he 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…”
In order to figure out that one of the reasons why is that “Republicans in the Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues,” a hard-working reporter would have to read to page four of the eight-page report. It’s just too much effort for most reporters?
Although they do also mention this in the very first sentence of the report: “We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process.” (Italics mine)
Or could it be that many reporters – and virtually all of the television talking heads – are themselves relatively high income-earners who don’t relish the idea of higher taxes?
Or could it be that reporters are afraid that if they report the actual language of the S&P Research Report, then Republicans will punish them by denying them “access” – i.e. refusing to show up on their programs – which is the career and show kiss-of-death for radio and TV programs that rely on big-name politicians to work?
I don’t know the reason, but it’s fascinating to see all the huffing and puffing about the S&P downgrade of America’s debt that all seems to be working so hard to avoid mentioning that critical sentence.
Inquiring minds want to know…
The sentence you quote is not referring to the downgrade. The changed assumption the sentence refers to is regarding the baseline revenues moving forward, which hitherto assumed the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and now assumes they will remain due to GOP opposition to their expiration.
It does not in any way say that because the GOP is resistant to tax hikes that this is why they changed the rating and it is extremely dishonest and misleading to write as such.
If you are are wondering why the mainstream media does not focus on that sentence, it's because it does not actually mean what you apparently think it means.
Someone is being lazy, but it's not the media.
I have to wonder a few things. Was this crash planned by Wall Street. How many big investors pulled out before the crash, only to jump back in while prices are low.
If the new super committee is deadlocked, the trigger is pulled, with automatic cuts to Medicare providers, which means it will be harder for seniors to find someone who will take Medicare. The cuts to the military I have heard don't have to be to arms, they could be cuts to pensions, medical care for injured troops coming home.
For the revenue side, Matt Taibbi (Evil Corporate Tax Holiday Gains Bipartisan Support) suggests that there will be a push for a Corporate tax holiday. Maybe instead of having to pay the 35% they owe, or the 5% of what to pay, they might have to pay 25% as the raising reveneu side of the discussion. It will set a precidence that all the wealthy have to do is wait a few years and they can bring their money back at lower rates when they actually need it. All done in the name of raising the revenue we need to prevent further cuts. Wealth wins again and people lose.
I would like to read the bill, but haven't been able to find it online. Could Thom post a link on the website. I looked, but couldn't find one so far.
Um...So you don't see this as an attack on the Republicans? Reminding us that they are unwilling to compromise? We know the sentence is refering to their assumption on the expiration of the tax breaks, but thanks anyway. We can all put 2 and 2 together, but the corporate-owned mainstream media know where their bread is buttered. Mercifully, in poll after poll, the people know the backstory - unfortunately for you. Enough with the false narratives. This isn't about one side winning anymore. This country is on the road to 3rd world status. But kudos to you and your minions for destroying the middle class! Now you can go work for a still AAA rated socialistic Scandanavian country and try to promote social Darwinism there!
Think Progress has a good breakdown with the Cliff Notes available <s> http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/08/05/289861/breaking-s-p-downgrad...
Guess you missed CNN's coverage on Friday. Anderson Cooper repeatedly read that sentence and more than once said that S&P "singled out" Republicans. I'm a Dem and despise the TP but really the left needs to stop with the "it's the media's fault" thing as an all-purpose whine. We're supposed to be the reality-based ones.
We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process.
Well, most of the people need to wake up. I have an engineering Degree and an MBA, I do not watch the popular news channels because they are corporate owned, cspan or cnn or the public network will do. I think we can all agree that The Federal Reserve’ which is not a government entity’ as well as the US Chamber of Commerce, both run the World economic environment for the last 70 years. Both control the Military industrial Complex ‘as well as the media’ not the President. Money is made by the interest rate at which the Government borrows from the Federal Reserve at an Interest rate that the US taxpayers pick up the tab for. Get the picture! I suggest reviewing ‘Executive Order 11110’ that President Kennedy signed before he was assassinated. The Federal Reserve is made up of the top Banking Institutions in this country and half of it is Foreign owned. Get the Picture! That is why they do not care about outsourcing our jobs. The US Chamber of Commerce is made up of the top business Corporations in this country of which more than half is Foreign owned, getting the Picture! That is why they do not care about outsourcing our jobs, of which was the wealth of the this country’s economic base. When you start a war, the media is already scripted so the Federal Reserve can make its huge profit from the money borrowed, and the US Chamber of Commerce is already well invested in the products needed to complete this Act, so all that is left is for the US TAX PAYERS to PAY FOR THE COST. This is the most CORRUPT SYSTEM IN THE HISTORY OF THE HUMAN RACE…..PLEASE WAKE UP those that dont understand!!!!!!!
I will be in Madison WI, tuesday
It almost seems too obvious, but I agree and have long believed that conflict of interest exists in regard to high paid talking heads reporting the truth when it comes to unfair revenue collection and related politics. Their postion makes it easy for them to filter out and twist reporting in favor of the tiny income bracket, "number of tax payers," they belong to. In addition I agree the threat of republicans denying "acess" is equally to blame for blocking the truth the vast majority needs to hear about, which is why I refuse to watch television period. Like many I rely on people like you Thom for truth in reporting.....radio free America!
Senator Sanders better be on the gang of twelve or it's another dagger in the integrity of the Democratic party. Senator Sanders remains one of the few elected officials actually representing the vast majority in a true Democratic manner, as opposed to his Govt. co-workers who get funded by the VAST MINORITY and legislate accordingly.
Thom, did you write this under a pseudonym? :-) And while you're at it, Paul Krugman has a very decent review of the S&P downgrade today.
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little… I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clothed, ill-nourished."
- Roosevelt's second inaugural address, 1937
Perhaps FDR did save Capitalism from itself, but its looking more and more that it was a temporary save. I believe that as Wall Street funnels more and more wealth from the average citizen and moves it up to the wealthy non-producers, it is creating an ever destabilizing society that will topple. The S&P credit downgrade seems to only be the beginning of the fall. Whether S&P is putting the blame on Republican'ts or Democrats is relatively irrelevant, what is relevant is where is the Stock Market is going to be sitting at the end of this week. It seems to me that S&P just torpedoed Wall Street, for whatever reason they did it, it does not bode well for the country as a whole, and just may be the beginning of the end for Capitalism as we know it in this country.
The whole paragraph mate,
"Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act. Key macroeconomic assumptions in the base case scenario include trend real GDP growth of 3% and consumer price inflation near 2% annually over the decade.
I do see a "base case scenario" hummm. A search of the document for "base case revenue" is blank.
Who is being lazy or is it manipulative? For those who would like a copy:
Reading brings up a question, continually hearing, debt is now 100% of GDP but every scenario begins: "net general government debt would rise from an estimated 74% of GDP by the end of 2011"
Yes, Vince, I got the picture! And I agree with everything you just said!
I have been watching CNN and CNBC and, of course, these talking heads and their guests have not once said anything about raising the taxes on the rich...everything they say is the problem is the entitlement programs. They don't say anything about how our idiotic and illegal...and on-going wars in the Middle East and Africa are a problem...it's always the entitlement programs. They go on and on about how the entitlement programs are 57% of the budget...as they show their pie chart...this is Social Security 20% and Medicare and other programs are 37%. Military, their pie chart shows is 20%, and what they call non-military discretionary spending is pretty high as well...together equaling about the social programs. So, there is no mention of the military's wasteful spending...in needlessly murdering people in the Middle East.
I'd like to see a pie chart, or any chart, that shows how the increase in wealth of the top per cent of the population and the decrease in taxes the those at the top have paid over the same period (last 50-60 years) presented right along side the pie charts they present when trying to tell us that the social programs are a problem. Main stream media is unfair and unbalanced and side with the rich and the Republicans. You only get the real news and true perspective by getting your news from non-main stream media and foreign news sources...or on web sites like ThomHartmann.com and Thinkprogressive.org
What is kind of funny is that these biased propaganda people in the main stream media and politicians are all now trying to down play S&P and saying that THEY are politically motivated. NOW they get really vocal about the credit rating agencies and bring up their culpability in the housing crises. These people are spoiled rotten brat cry-babies who are selfish and hateful and willing to throw granny under the bus in order to not pay their fair share of taxes and make the middle class and poor soak up all the pain. The pain that the middle class or poor would suffer is/will be much greater than the pain that rich people would be trifled about. They would still be wealthy enough a zillion times over to buy anything they wanted for the rest of their lives...and their heir's lives...yet they won't budge on their position. Greedy, Greedy, Greedy! Shame! Shame! Shame!
Actually NPR had a guest on prior to Obama's speech today who hit on S&P's point about intransagent Repugnicans. I didn't get her name. I only heard the first ten minutes of NPR's "All things censored", but it's probably safe to assume they breezed right by the far-right agenda.
The saddest part is if the spin masters twist it just enough to bend the minds they've already bent just a bit more then 2012 may very well be the end the democratic party as the blame will rest, surely on Obama. Funnier yet will be the strange timing of it going back to AAA if the conspiracy comes to light. and all because a bunch of blow holes and lunes want total control without any tax increase....Hey did you all watch that documentary, "inside job"? if that made you a bit angrrrrry wait until we see the truth about this fiasco!!!
During the great depression, my grandmother wrote to ask for help in what she could do to improve her families situation. (I don't remember where she wrote). The basic answer she got was that her husband needed to get a better paying job!
If your family was struggling to survive, would you cut their neccessities like food, medical care, shelter, and adequate clothing so that you could have more money to play the golf course with?
We the average American have already sacrificed enough, and the people who have control of the budget need to step up to the plate and demand that our elected officials who are supposed to be governing us get rid of the tax breaks on the rich. We need more income, because they gave tax breaks to the rich and allowed companies to house their money and businesses offshore, hiding it from taxation, and giving unfair competition for jobs.
Our leaders are not on our side, and are not representing the will of the average American, particularly Republicans who are not going to comprimise on anything.
300,000,000 people, I'm half way through life, what will my once country tis of thee look like when it hits a billion? scary...got soilent green, strawberry jam by the sponfull for $1000.
Standard and Poors, Moody's, and Fitch have made themselves irrelevant. They missed on Enron, they missed again on their ratings of AAA on the housing derivatives. No intelligent investor should rely on these thieves. They made themselves irrelevant by crawling into bed with the banks when they were preparing these toxic financial products. If S&P, Moody's, and Fitch had been an independent and trustworthy agencies, they would not have lied to investors about Fannie Mae and all the banks that were creating garbage. The savvy investors are not paying attention to these soon to be arrested co-conspirators. I am waiting for the United States Department of Justice to arrest the thieves who committed fraud on a grand scale by giving garbage a AAA rating.
If they can give AAA ratings to garbage, what is the value of their work? They have not merely shot themselves in the foot; they have blown their brains out by being so partisian. I expect that all three ratings agencies will be replaced in the next twelve months. They are providing useless information. If you cannot trust them, then why use them at all.
Philip Henderson, Ethical Magician
The control of vital truths are essential to Democracy. When mass media is controlled by corporations the truths are not reported or filtered to remove key information essential to critical thinking. Propaganda media is the result. The free internet is their next objective to control. In example,look at wikipedia how the right wing and their minions rush to change facts to reflect their opinions. Free press that gives facts is the solution. Thanks to Democracy Now, Thom Hartmann, and Al Jazeera network. The two independent networks on satelite ( Free Speech TV and LINK TV] and the Internet ( Alternet,Think Progress, TruthOut, Common Dreams].
The power of words and their message is crucial to ending this reign of terror. Do hate me for using the word. The actions of those involved in deceiving the American people is terrorism and quite sadly all this stuff we are discussing is Worldwide. What happened the day after our crisis, Italy became the next target. Country after country the attack is on. Take more from the poor and middle class and hand it over on a Gold platter to the wealthy and corporations. The spider web of deceit is mindboggling. The lies must stop.
In America, International Corporations control, The President, Senate, Congress,Supreme Court, U.S. Treasury, Major Media, Pseudo American organizations like Us Chamber of Comerce, Federal Reserve, and now we learn about ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC creating the legislation our Government inacts in favor of corporations at the expense of the poor and middle class. Standard n Poors has demonstrated many questionable actions, but if you are not tuned in to free and independent media you are misinformed. Weeks before and during the debt debaucle, the truths were being brought to light by Free Media. The main fact that the whole debt ceiling was contrieved utter nonsense was never discussed by corporate media. As usual the other side of story is never allowed,
This is Shock Doctrine at its best. Create false crisis and effect control of those who seem powerless to act. The spin is taking over the air waves. Talking heads speak corporate dogma. People change the channel get good information and fight back.
Anyone that thinks our mainstream media has not played a major role in steering this country onto the highway to hell must either be Rupert Murdoch or they have not talked to an average person in at least a decade. Does anybody remember the dialogue during the health insurance reform debate? All I heard from average low info citizens including some of my own friends and relatives were echoed sentiments such as, thaaaaats socialism, it's a Govt. takeover, death panels, Obama pals around with terrorists, and is a moslem from Kenya, and on and on. Wake up, where the hell do you think that crap came from? Well guess what, the mainstream media both covered and was able to create a huge amount of false hype regarding a tiny group of easily manipulated souls called the tea party. These poor bastards still don't realize they're doing the Kochs dirty work. The right wing mass media is and continues to be a tool off and partner with a few wealthy special interests who remain hellbent on power and destroying our democracy for their own gain.
I'm sorry it's no accident the media refuses to connect the two gigantic dots for the viewers...... ........#1 REPUBLICAN PARTY..........#2 CRASHED ECONOMY!
Reporting that the republicans refuse to raise revenues is too much like FREEDOM OF THE PRESS!
I know Thom reported that there was zero mention of the fact that the S & P report specifcally called out the Republicans and blamed them for their refusal to increase revenues, BUT Rachel Maddow has done just that! She clearly pointed out the part of the S & P report that did blame the Republicans for their refusal to increase revenues...their refusal to compromise is the problem.
This juvenile stance they've rallied around, signed goofy pledges never to raise taxes, & on and on is, quite frankly, the antithesis of what an elected member of Congress is there to do. If they continue to remain ridgid and closed minded then why are they there? They're pretty much making themselves irrelevant. A robot could fill in and we'd get the same results. Yes, there may be some in their constituency who say, "don't you dare ______" (you can fill in the blank) but that's where those elected to Congress with their supposed intelligence, exclusive access to power, classified information and that pledge they took to support & defend The Constitution comes in. They are there to learn what they can on all sides of legislation before they decide how they're going to vote. Of course, that would mean they would have to admit to not knowing everything and that's when the trouble starts. Fragile egos, narrowmindedness, and ridid ideology prevail for those who really have no business representing anyone much less actual Americans counting on them to act like grownups.
I just saw a clip from CNN now that did mention this very thing:) Never mind:)
Thom's point also was subject of article by Paul Krugman in an article in The New York Times and Houston Chronicle titled : Media Balance plays role in push to edge of disaster". He states unequivocably that the media appears to be incapable of blaming the Republicans for anything, including the debt crisis debacle. It is evident the Democrats and Obama will never get a fair hearing in the press and t.v. news programs. They must go on the offense when false accusations are made. I fear the failure to do so will have serious consequences. We are past the time to be the adult in the room.
I e-mailed all Republican congressmen in my state over the weekend and told them "shame on you congress!!" and later wrote " enjoy your 5 week vacation it's going to be permanent after the next election cycle" ...I also e-mailed Boehner on Saturday with a dummy zip in his district and it read " AA+ RATEING ?? YOU F**CKING PIN HEAD !! " ENJOY YOUR 5 WEEK VACATION, IT'S GOING TO BE PERMANENT AFTER THE NEXT ELECTION CYCLE !!!!! " unquote..
Did you know that of the 10 richest congress persons...7 are Democrat and 3 are Republicans...and their combined net worth is $2.7 billion.....and that all 10 voted for the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich?
From 1992 to 2007:
The 400 richest people's average income rose by 392% while their average tax rate decreased by 37%.
Lots of interesting charts here: Only Little People Pay Taxes
And now AIG is suing Bank of America over the bad mortgages.....let the games begin...but what will it mean? Is this just the beginning of sharks eating sharks and all us little fish are getting swallowed up along the way? I sure hope FDIC can handle the fallout!
"American International Group Inc. said Monday it sued Bank of America Corp. for more than $10 billion, saying the bank cheated it by selling residential mortgage-backed securities that were overvalued.
Bank of America denied the allegations, saying AIG "recklessly" chased investments with high returns, and was big and sophisticated enough to know the risks."
Jitters and panic on Wall street are based on the very real prospect of an economy already in a recession, with high unemployment, that just had it's spending cut by a TRILLION, with TRILLIONS more to come. This thanks a lot to the REPUBLICAN SPONSORED little group of extremists that got 98% of what they wanted.
Next time listen to the economists!
"This country is on the road to 3rd world status."
I would assert we are already there, thanks to Reaganomics. We went from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation. We went from the largest importer of raw materials and exporter of finished goods to the largest importer of finished goods and largest exporter of raw materials. How did this happen? Greed. Reagan took the top marginal tax rate from the 70's to the 30's. Then George W. Bush lowered them even further. Now you see massive wealth accumulated at the top and the rest to fight over the crumbs. The only reason you don't see the extreme poverty in the streets like other third world countries is because of the few left-over effects of when the U.S. was a great progressive country. You know, social security, medicare and the like, that the Republican party now wants to privatize. Out of greed.
Lower taxes = fewer jobs. With lower taxes, the incentive to export jobs increases dramatically.
The GOP's going-in position on debt ceiling negotiations was, absolutely no new taxes, or even allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire as initially planned. This was widely reported. Against that, here are the more relevant quotes from the S&P Research Update, under the section titled Rationale:
"We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process."
"It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options."
"The act contains no measures to raise taxes or otherwise enhance revenues, though the committee could recommend them."
"Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act."
"Our revised upside scenario--which, other things being equal, we view as consistent with the outlook on the 'AA+' long-term rating being revised to stable--retains these same macroeconomic assumptions. In addition, it incorporates $950 billion of new revenues on the assumption that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for high earners lapse from 2013 onwards, as the Administration is advocating."
The implication of these statements -- namely, that the Republican refusal to even put increased revenue on the table, making the country fight for its economic life with one hand tied behind its back, was a significant factor in the downgrade -- should have been irresistible fodder for the media. It's genuine and important news, and a helluva story: the GOP's Number 1 agenda, their big play and supposed victory in the budget talks, burned their country. They were wrong, and spectacularly so. But that part got a small fraction of the visibility.
So yes, the S&P report does in any way say that the GOP resistance to tax hikes was a factor in changing the ratings. And while my usual goal in a forum is to persuade, not flame - I'm about equal parts embarrassed for you, and contemptuous. If you're going to call someone out, especially in an insulting manner, learn your facts.
@Learnyerfacts, the sentence in question does not directly refer to the downgrade, but implies it. Using basic logic, it's a>b>c, therefore a>c, where a = "the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues"; b = "our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place"; and c = "We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process."
In other words, Louise has it essentially correct. This may be hard for those not used to logical thinking, but go over it a few times and you'll probably catch on.
To your "um" I say "huh?"
>>our revised base case fiscal scenario
>>[which is] consistent with [ie., our justification for a change to] a 'AA+' long-term rating and a negative outlook
>>[indicates that] debt would rise from an estimated 74% of GDP by the end of 2011 to 79% in 2015 and 85% by 2021.
>>We have changed our assumption on this because &c.
Direct unbroken causal chain. The debt would rise, and this is why.
Here's the whole section:
"Under our revised base case fiscal scenario--which we consider to be consistent with a 'AA+' long-term rating and a negative outlook--we now project that net general government debt would rise from an estimated 74% of GDP by the end of 2011 to 79% in 2015 and 85% by 2021. Even the projected 2015 ratio of sovereign indebtedness is high in relation to those of peer credits and, as noted, would continue to rise under the act's revised policy settings.
Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act. Key macroeconomic assumptions in the base case scenario include trend real GDP growth of 3% and consumer price inflation near 2% annually over the decade."
The previous projections continued to warrant AAA. The revised projection does not. The revised projection is of debt rising as stated. What changed? The change, the difference, the new thing (not the failure to change, but the change) the nova res is this refusal to let the Bush tax cuts meet their appointed end.
The spending levels are as before.
That's not a change. The change that conflicts with previous calculations is that S&P presumed — LOL — that the GOP would allow their past promises to be fulfilled! Ah, youth — so gullible.
P.S.: " a contentious and fitful process.” (Italics mine)"
It's now the fourth day since this was posted. Mr. Hartmann, where are the italics?
One lump or two? House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). "I will vote for this bill because I don't want to see middle-income working people in America get a tax increase, because I think that will be a depressant on an economy that needs to be lifted up."
It wasn't quite that cut & dried. In order to save the middle class tax cuts, Dems would have had to have 60 votes in the Senate, or give this ransom money to the hostage takers.
@Philip Henderson, Ethical Magician
They are walking in the footsteps of Arthur Anderson, once the conscience of the accounting profession, then they sold out to ENRON. Their fathers and grandfathers would writhe with shame.
There isn't much left of this great nation, and there's the proof — in a cameo.
One often has to leave the country to find objective reporting... occasionally the BBC, the only place I could find mention of your point... in an op-ed piece at that.
How Washington's politicians downgraded America
The downgrading of America is a humiliation for a nation constantly fretting about its potential decline. It reinforces a very common belief here, that the squabbling politicians in Washington are to blame for many of the country's ills.
It was indeed a major theme of candidate Obama that "business as usual" couldn't continue and, by an effort of will, America had to come together.
The decision by Standard & Poor's to push America into the second division, when it comes to trustworthiness about paying its bills, puts the USA below the UK, Germany, France, Singapore, Finland and 14 other countries.
The reason it gives is what all America has been saying: Washington doesn't work. The S&P report says: "The political brinkmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed."
A clumsy sentence, yet it encapsulates the frustration of many Americans. They don't think too much of the plan they did eventually come up with at the last minute.
"Our opinion is that elected officials remain wary of tackling the structural issues required to effectively address the rising US public debt burden in a manner consistent with a 'AAA' rating and with 'AAA' rated".
They warn America's debt will continue to balloon and they have little hope of the politicians fixing it.
They say they think dealing with the debt remains a "contentious and fitful process". They say no-one is serious about dealing with the programmes that eat up money, like Medicare, health care for the elderly.
They single out Republicans for ruling out tax rises. "It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options... Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues.""......