Rubio, who has vowed to vote against raising the nation’s debt ceiling unless it is coupled with entitlement and tax reforms, a balanced budget amendment and steep cuts to discretionary spending, said S&P’s announcement would send more entrepreneurs “running for the hills.”

“Eventually, the specter of higher inflation will erode the dollar, diminish consumer spending power, and make it harder for families to buy cars and homes or pay tuition,” said Rubio.

“And before you know it, we will have lost the essence of what has made America exceptional for centuries. None of these scenarios are a question of ‘if,’ but rather a question of ‘when,’ unless we act now.”

S&P downgraded its outlook because of the divisions between Republicans and Democrats in Washington over how to reduce the deficit. The credit ratings agency said it had doubts that an agreement could be reached before the 2012 elections.