By Mike Lillis - 08/10/11 03:33 PM EDT
A group of Blue Dog Democrats is calling this week for Congress to cut short its August vacation and return to Washington to address the nation's fiscal situation.
In a letter to House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerDem drops out of race for Boehner's old seat Conservative allies on opposite sides in GOP primary fight Clinton maps out first 100 days MORE (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the lawmakers contend the debt-limit package, while "an important first step," didn't go nearly far enough "to instill confidence in our nation's ability to deal with our long-term debt problem."
The letter was endorsed by Reps. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Michael Michaud (D-Maine) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.).
The lawmakers are urging BoehnerJohn BoehnerDem drops out of race for Boehner's old seat Conservative allies on opposite sides in GOP primary fight Clinton maps out first 100 days MORE and Pelosi to call Congress back into session "immediately" in order to "show the American people and the financial markets that Congress can solve these big problems in a bipartisan fashion."
On Friday, S&P analysts downgraded the United State's sterling AAA credit rating for the first time in the nation's history. The reason was not the country's fiscal situation, per se. Instead, the analysts cited Washington's partisan gridlock and a lack of confidence in Congress to forge an effective strategy to rein in deficit spending.
S&P specifically went after Republicans for using the debt limit and the threat of default as "political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy."
Another factor, S&P analysts said, was their new assumption that Congress won't allow the Bush-era tax rates to expire for even the wealthiest Americans – a step that would have cut deficits by roughly $950 billion over a decade.
“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 [debt-limit] act,” S&P said.
The debt-limit package, which President Obama signed into law last week, locks in more than $900 billion in spending cuts over the next decade, and creates a bipartisan "supercommittee" to come up with at least $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction over the same span.
Congressional leaders have begun this week to appoint the members of that high-stakes committee. The Blue Dogs, though, say the process isn't moving fast enough.
"Our fiscal and jobs situation is dire and both deserve the full and immediate attention of Congress," the Blue Dogs wrote.
"We can't afford to wait until September to get back to work."