GOP candidates, pols slam Obama in reaction to S&P downgrade

C.J. Ciaramella | Contributor

Investors, business leaders, and politicians reacted Friday night to news that Standard & Poor’s had downgraded the United States’ creditworthiness for the first time in its history. GOP presidential hopefuls were eager to make campaign hay out of what they see as a failure of the Obama administration. And as the night wore on, other notable Republicans entered the fray via Twitter.

Here’s what Republican presidential candidates and other GOP notables had to say:

Michele Bachmann

We were warned by all of the credit agencies that a failure to deal with our debt would lead to a downgrade in our credit rating, but instead he submitted a budget that had a $1.5 trillion deficit and then requested a $2.4 trillion blank check. President Obama is destroying the foundations of the U.S. economy one beam at a time. I call on the President to seek the immediate resignation of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and to submit a plan with a list of cuts to balance the budget this year, turn our economy around and put Americans back to work.

Mitt Romney

America’s creditworthiness just became the latest casualty in President Obama’s failed record of leadership on the economy. Standard & Poor’s rating downgrade is a deeply troubling indicator of our country’s decline under President Obama. His failed policies have led to high unemployment, skyrocketing deficits, and now, the unprecedented loss of our nation’s prized AAA credit rating. Today, President Obama promised that “things will get better.” But it has become increasingly clear that the only way things will get better is with new leadership in the White House.

Tim Pawlenty

The news of the day and the news all across the country and across the world over the past 24 hours was that the United States of America received a historic downgrade in its credit rating from Standard and Poor’s. I think as we gather here this morning what we should be talking about is downgrading Barack Obama from President of the United States.

What he doesn’t understand is all this talk of the full faith and credit in the United States government, he needs to stop being reminded and we need to have a President who understands what it means to put our full faith and credit in the American people. His vision for America is to take things out of the private sector and to put it into the government. What we need to be doing is taking things out of the government and putting them back in the private sector and trusting the people of this country.

Newt Gingrich via Twitter

The Obama disaster continues. Highest food stamp level and lowest credit rating in history in the same 24 hours.

Jon Huntsman

Out-of-control spending and a lack of leadership in Washington have resulted in President Obama presiding over the first downgrade of the United States credit rating in our history. For far too long we have let reckless government spending go unchecked and the cancerous debt afflicting our nation has spread. We need new leadership in Washington committed to fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget, and job-friendly policies to get America working again.

Ron Paul

The ratings agencies had been warning us for some time that it is imperative upon the U.S. government to get its fiscal house in order and tackle its debt and deficit problem by taking serious steps.

Unfortunately, the game in Washington has been one of partisan blaming and bipartisan out-of-control spending.

America has been dealing with this severe economic crisis for years because the Washington establishment failed to focus on the true issues at hand: a declining dollar and out-of-control spending. …

The American people realize that our nation can no longer afford to stay on this same path of reckless spending and follow the status quo of Washington. They will not tolerate any further ineffective stimulus schemes that do nothing to help our economy and actually do the opposite to the tune of trillions of dollars in money being spent and printed, and millions of people remaining unemployed and without much economic stability or security.

If Washington refuses to take heed, there is little cause for optimism.

Growing inflation, rising gasoline and food prices, and trillion-dollar budget deficits will all soon seem like minor issues if our nation does not immediately change our monetary and spending policies.

Herman Cain

On Tuesday, April 19, 2011, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner promised that America faced ‘no risk’ of a credit downgrading. Less than six months later, he is proven shamefully wrong. As I have feared for months, the S&P has chosen to downgrade America’s credit rating from AAA, which we have always enjoyed, to AA+.

Perhaps this is because the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats never once demonstrated a willingness to propose its own ideas for meaningful spending cuts, something credit agencies signaled were necessary to redeem America’s financial standing in the world. …

This is a sad day for America. Such a rating is unfitting of the greatest and most prosperous nation the world has ever known. And such a weak leader is, as well.

Gary Johnson

Losing our AAA credit rating is obviously bad. The reasons for it are much worse, much more important, and not complicated. Everyone from our largest creditor, China, to the 14 million Americans who are unemployed get the simple reality that a $14.6 trillion debt is unsustainable. They also get that simply raising our credit limit is not an economic policy and certainly not a solution. Washington can dance around reality all they want, but there is only one way to get us off the path toward financial disaster: Enact real spending cuts now — not ten or twenty years down the road, and balance the budget.

Rick Santorum

The deal the President cut with Congress was supposed to avoid this downgrade but all it did was once again kick the can down the road.

President Obama and his Administration have been a failure.

I understand the US Treasury is going back to Standard and Poors to say that a two trillion dollar mathematical error by S&P contributed to the downgrade. So, in addition to blaming President Bush for all of its problems, now the White House is blaming S&P – but this happened on the President’s watch – and he has to deal with it. I guess President Obama is left to cling to the “hope” that a mathematical error caused this. Is that the “hope” the President was talking about?

Folks, an AA rating should be so far in our rear view mirror that no mathematical error should affect it.

Speaker of the House John Boehner

This decision by S&P is the latest consequence of the out-of-control spending that has taken place in Washington for decades. The spending binge has resulted in job-destroying economic uncertainty and now threatens to send destructive ripple effects across our credit markets. …

In May, I warned, “if we don’t act boldly now, the markets will act for us very soon.” It is my hope this wake-up call will convince Washington Democrats that they can no longer afford to tinker around the edges of our long-term debt problem. As S&P noted, reforming and preserving our entitlement programs is the “key to long-term fiscal sustainability.”

Republicans remain committed to ensuring the United States always meets its obligations. Though we are outnumbered in Washington, we will continue to press Democrats to join us in taking meaningful steps to rein in our debt and deficits.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch

The downgrade of our nation’s credit rating is a direct threat to our financial stability, putting much-needed job creation and the cost of credit for every American family and business at serious risk. The acceleration of deficits and debt coupled with an unpredictable fiscal path and unsustainable entitlement promises has, regrettably, cast doubt on the full faith and credit of the United States.

Some have argued that increasing taxes would remedy the current crisis, but with our economy still weak, this would be an extremely wrong-headed approach. We must now work to reverse the current damaging fiscal policies and advance common-sense initiatives that will hold down spending, provide responsible tax relief for Americans, spur new job growth and fully restore our nation’s fiscal house.

Nearly two weeks ago, I called on the Treasury Department to provide Congress and the American people with a detailed analysis of the nation’s financial resources and a contingency plan if the nation’s credit rating were to ever be lowered. The silence from Treasury is disconcerting, and in my view, unacceptable. Moving forward I will continue to press for answers — answers the American people rightly deserve.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee

This downgrade confirms what we have known was coming, but have chosen to ignore, for a long time. This downgrade further confirms that the true threat to our country, our economy and our way of life is our debt and the continued deficit spending Washington and the current administration are pursuing.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the significant financial challenges this country faces, we have been swatting at the branches and symptoms issue instead of attacking the root and core causes. Never has there been a greater need for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution — to ensure we get our fiscal house in order, reduce our debt, and get Washington to live within its means.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul

Secretary Geithner assured everyone that raising the debt ceiling without a plan to balance the budget would not result in a downgrade to our debt. He was clearly wrong. Our debt has been downgraded for the first time in history, and now American taxpayers will have to suffer the consequences.

There is plenty of blame to go around. Both parties have contributed to our $14 trillion debt. But it is hard to say this crisis wasn’t predictable, because it was. House and Senate conservatives clearly predicted this, and also offered the only solution that could have prevented our downgrade with our Cut Cap and Balance plan.

We must rescue our finances through a Balanced Budget Amendment, and we must do it soon. We must cut spending immediately. And we must get new leadership, and put in place people who have seen problems coming and offered credible solutions, rather than those who continue to misdiagnose and mismanage our economy.

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn

This announcement is probably long overdue. For decades, political careerism has trumped statesmanship in Washington. Both parties have done what is safe, not what is right. The dysfunction in Washington is the belief that we can live beyond our means forever. We can’t. The moment to make the hard decisions we have long avoided has arrived. There is no where left to kick the can.

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint

The President should demand that Secretary Geithner resign and immediately replace him with someone who will help Washington focus on balancing our budget and allowing the private sector to create jobs.

For months he opposed all efforts to reduce the debt in return for a debt ceiling increase. His opposition to serious spending and debt reforms has been reckless and now the American people will pay the price.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson

Instead of creating jobs, President Obama’s failed stimulus plan only increased our nation’s debt. His health care and financial reforms have dramatically increased economic uncertainty, and the regulatory overreach of his agencies is putting a stranglehold on job creators.

We need leadership and bold action. Congress should reconvene immediately for the sole purpose of repealing the entire Obama agenda and developing a real plan for deficit reduction and job creation. Unfortunately, we can’t repeal the more than $4 trillion in additional debt he has incurred. But we can enact real spending controls and we should repeal Obamacare, Dodd–Frank, and the explosion of Obama regulations that are assaulting job creators in the private sector.

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander

This problem didn’t happen overnight and it can’t be fixed overnight, but the American people have a right to expect Congress to work across party lines to reduce the federal debt by at least $4 trillion over the next ten years.

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz via Twitter

By the time Monday’s markets open I would ask for Sec Geithner’s resignation. Time to step down or be fired by the President.

California Rep. Ed Royce in a draft letter to President Obama, circulated among GOP House members

This decision to overturn our top credit rating, which we have maintained for 70 years, means our credit rating is now lower than that of Liechtenstein and on par with Belgium and New Zealand.  Americans deserve better than that.  That is why the undersigned are asking that you come forward with your plan for $2 trillion in additional spending cuts in order to restore our ‘AAA’ credit rating. …

Earlier this year you presented Congress with a budget that calls for budget deficits indefinitely and adds $9.1 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. As was demonstrated when the Senate rejected this proposal by a vote of 97–0, this is not acceptable.  The recent step taken by S&P, however, has afforded you another opportunity.  Now is the time to present the American people with real spending cuts that will get our fiscal house in order and restore our nation’s ‘AAA’ credit rating.

The House has and will continue to push for such spending cuts that appease the rating agencies and restore the U.S.’s pristine credit rating, but leadership on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue is needed if we are going to solve this crisis. Again, we urge you to immediately put forward your plan for at least $2 trillion in additional spending cuts that will lead to the restoration of our ‘AAA’ credit rating.

Georgia Rep. Tom Price

This didn’t have to happen. Instead of addressing the out-of-control spending which has come to pervade Washington, the President chose to ignore the matter. He proposed a budget which never put us on a course for fiscal sustainability, and then continued to advocate for a ‘balanced approach’ to raise taxes on job creators and derail a weak economy. Meanwhile, the Administration’s allies in the Senate sat on their hands for more than two years, never proposing a plan to get our fiscal house in order.

Republicans are committed to making the tough decisions and put us on more solid fiscal footing. The work of the Joint Committee will be critical to carry out these tough decisions and put the United States on a more sustainable course. But what is truly needed are safeguards to ensure this never happens again. A Balanced Budget Amendment will do that, making Washington more accountable to the people for the money it spends.

I implore the President and Democrats to work with us, together, in the next couple months, to end the job-killing spending binge without raising taxes on the American people, and stop spending money we don’t have. Enough is enough!

Note: Some lengthy statements are excerpted for space.

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