The Obama downgrade

Democratic spinmeisters have concocted a nice little phrase to describe the actions of the Standard & Poor’s credit-rating agency, which was used to little effect over the weekend: The Tea Party Downgrade.

Nice try. That is kind of like blaming the fire department for not putting out the blaze fast enough.

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The S&P believes that we spend too much as a nation and that we don’t have the political will to stop spending. The Tea Party was formed primarily to send a message to Washington that America needs to stop spending money we don’t have. 

The Tea Party won’t get the blame for the debt-rating downgrade. President Obama will get the blame and it will hurt him with the American people in the next election.

This 30-second ad takes less than 30 seconds to create. A picture of the president hanging out with his Democratic colleagues fades in and then out. A screenshot fades in: “The first president to ever lose America’s triple-A credit rating. Had enough?” 

The president’s men know this is a bad hit. That is why Tim Geithner is attacking the S&P so harshly. That is why the spinners are trying to pin the blame on conservative Republicans. But it won’t work. 

The president deserves the blame.  

In his first two years, he let the spending process get out of hand. He signed a stimulus bill that was an economic and political disaster.  

He pushed hard to pass a multitrillion-dollar healthcare law that we simply can’t afford. He then signed an extension of the Bush tax cuts, tax cuts he himself said were fiscally irresponsible.  

When the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission came up with a series of recommendations to bring the budget closer to balance — a commission Obama came up with, by the way — he walked away from its recommendations.  

Instead, he proposed a budget that included no new proposals to deal with entitlement spending. His advisers said he didn’t want to lead on entitlements because it would just become a political football. When asked why he didn’t lead with a reform plan, he said: “This is not a matter of you go first or I go first. This is a matter of … ultimately getting in that boat at the same time so it doesn’t tip over.” 

Guess what? He is the now the man overboard.  

His lack of leadership helped to create the budget crisis we are in today.  

He foolishly continued to insist — up until the last week — that Republicans include tax increases in their proposal to increase the debt limit, as if such a provision could pass either the House or the Senate.  

Republicans aren’t going to raise taxes to deal with this debt crisis. They are going to cut spending first.

The deal struck by congressional leaders was awkward and more than a bit unsatisfying. But it was the process and the president’s stunning lack of leadership that convinced the S&P to downgrade our debt. 

President Obama was elected because many voters on the left and in the middle (and more than a few on the right) wanted to feel good about themselves again.  

A vote for Obama was a vote for the history books. Obama was a cross between FDR, the president who led us out of a recession, and JFK, the nation’s first (and only) Catholic president.  

Voters, sick of eight years of the Bush administration, tired of war and fearful in the wake of a devastating financial crisis, wanted to feel like they were on the right side of history by voting for Obama. 

Obama has made history, all right. He is now the first president in our history to lose America’s AAA bond rating. And come next November, chances are increasing that he will be a one-termer.