Republican presidential hopefuls respond to Standard and Poor’s downgrading of the US’s credit outlook

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Republican Presidential hopefuls took the airwaves this week in response to the rating agency Standard and Poor’s downgrading the United States’ credit rating outlook to negative, attacking President, talking about the debt ceiling, and proclaiming fiscal crisis if we did not take action.

“Standard and Poor’s, one of the rating agencies, just downgraded their view of the future for America. If you will, they downgraded the Obama presidency,” said Republican hopeful Mitt Romney in a radio interview Wednesday.

Romney accused President Obama of “playing chicken with the U.S. economy” on The Sean Hannity Show Monday, and called the President’s response to S&P’s announcement flippant and suggested that he was not taking the situation seriously enough.

“If we … stay on the current course that we’re on, interest costs in this country are going to gobble up a larger and larger share of what the taxpayers send to the government,” Romney said. “The amount of debt we have is backbreaking even now. But, if the interest costs are going up, why, it could be devastating to the U.S. economy and could make job growth even more difficult.”

The important thing, Romney said, was “to create more jobs.”

Newt Gingrich, in a statement to The Daily Caller, made similar comments.
The former Speaker of the House said, “The S&P downgrade of America’s credit worthiness and its admonishment of the Obama deficits are sober warnings that if Congress and the Administration does not get our fiscal house back in order, we will inevitably be facing a catastrophic financial crisis.”

“The fact is,” he continued, “we are not going to close the deficit and move towards a balanced budget unless we follow the policies that foster the economic growth necessary to create jobs.”

Gingrich suggested two steps “to regain the S&P rating and restore confidence in America’s credit worthiness”: “policies that encourage investment, create jobs, and reward innovation and entrepreneurship,” and to “lower the cost of entitlements … by fundamental structural reforms that would deliver better results at lower costs.”

He also raised the issue of the debt ceiling, saying that Republicans should hold the line and “not agree to vote for raising the debt ceiling without getting very significant changes in the current spending trajectory.”

Michele Bachmann told Sean Hannity that this should trigger a new course for government.

“We can’t do what we’re doing,” she said, “and Standard and Poor’s told us that. That’s the canary in the mine. And so now we know that we’re in trouble if we don’t change course.”

The Minnesota Congresswoman turned the subject to the debt ceiling saying that the only way she would even consider raising it would be if raising the debt ceiling came with a balanced budget amendment, defunding Obama’s healthcare plan, and caps on spending.

Regardless, she said, it is essential that the government do something to preserve the country’s credit rating.
“We have to take off the table that we are not going to see the full faith and credit of the United States harmed in any way,” she said.

Tim Pawlenty, when asked what “the Pawlenty plan to fix this” was, said that government would have to “restructure.”

“They’ve had management and labor running up the costs too far, too high, for too long. No reasonable assumptions about revenues justifies what’s going on. … it’s going to take leadership, it’s going to take a president who’s willing to get out in front of those issues, and we’re going to have to reform and restructure government.”

Pressed further, he said that the government needs to reform entitlements, raising the retirement age for new entrants into the program and means testing the cost of living adjustment. He said that there could be similar solutions for Medicaid and Medicare, and said he had plans to address social security.

“You can kick the can down the road and wait for the crisis to come just like we have now in these other programs, but there are reasonable steps… that I know we can get a majority of the country on board with to help fix the problem and sends a powerful signal to the markets, to the people of this country, and to the world, that we can once again fix this problem, get our own house in order, and move the country forward.”