Axelrod: ‘This is essentially a tea party downgrade’

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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It appears the new Democratic talking point on Friday’s S&P downgrade of the U.S. credit rating is to blame on the tea party, by referring to it as a “tea party downgrade.”

That phrase began to surface Sunday on morning talk shows, first with Democratic Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and then with President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign adviser David Axelrod.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Axelrod explained his interpretation of the downgrade. He argued it had more to do with the country’s politics and less to do with its finances.

“Well, first of all, let’s see how the markets react because I think there’s a broad consensus that this is still the safest place to put your money,” he said.

“You know, we can debate the strength of the analysis that they did, the history of S&P and so on. They made an egregious analytical error here but theirs was largely a political analysis. That’s what we should focus on because what they were saying is they want to see the political system work. They want to see a sense of compromise. They want to see the kind of solution that the president has been fighting for, a large solution that will team with the problem, that will be balance, that will include revenues, that will deal with some of our long-term issues. We still made some progress in the compromise that was struck on the debt. What they’re saying is we have to make more progress. In fact we do. That’s what the next few months is going to be all about.” (RELATED: Standard & Poor’s ratings head: U.S. could be downgraded even further)

During his appearance on “Face the Nation,” Axelrod also argued that in crafting a solution to America’s debt problem, lawmakers must address the problem “in a way that is fair to everyone” — by which he meant that he believed the wealthy had to put more skin in the game.

“First of all, there’s no doubt that the brinksmanship that we saw was atrocious and that contributed their analysis,” Axelrod said.

“But let’s review exactly what happened. For months the president was saying let’s get together. Let’s compromise. Let’s do a $4 trillion package that will really stabilize the debt and get us on the right path. Let’s do it in a way that is fair to everyone so that the wealthiest Americans are kicking in as well as the middle class and everyone else in the country. We close these egregious loopholes. We deal with long-term structural issues, everybody giving up some of their sacred cows in order to achieve that result. And we thought we had such an arrangement with the Speaker of the House, who showed interest in it, Mr. Boehner. Then he went back to his caucus. He had to yield to the most strident voices in his party. They played brinkmanship with the full faith and credit of the United States. This was the result of that. You know, there is a lesson in that. Compromise cannot be a dirty word. We have to work together to solve this problem. We have to do it in a way that’s fair and balanced and meaningful.”

But in Axelrod’s final analysis, the lion’s share of the blame for the downgrade falls on the tea party movement.

“Listen, Bob, what I’m saying is review the history of what happened here,” Axelrod said.

“I think, first of all, people are less concerned about that than where we go moving forward. But let’s look at the history of this. The fact of the matter is that this is essentially a tea party downgrade. The tea party brought us to the brink of a default. By the way you said before, the president said … if we had defaulted on our debt the consequences would have been dramatic and lasting. So, you know, it was the right thing to do to avoid that default. It was the wrong thing to do to push the country to that point. It’s something that that should never have happened. That clearly is on the backs of those who were willing to see the country default. Those very strident voices in the tea party.”