Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade the United States’ credit rating Friday night came with clear shots at congressional Republicans who had refused to consider tax increases in the deal to raise the debt ceiling. S&P criticized Congress for allowing new revenues to drop from the “menu of policy options,” criticizing “the majority of Republicans in Congress [who] continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues.” The National Journal proclaimed it “hard to read the S&P analysis as anything other than a blast at Republicans.”
Unlike his party’s presidential candidates and several of his congressional colleagues, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) seems to have heard that blast, as he sent a memo to congressional Republicans today acknowledging S&P’s calls for tax increases. Despite hearing those calls, however, Cantor is urging his colleagues to ignore them:
Over the next several months, there will be tremendous pressure on Congress to prove that S&P’s analysis of the inability of the political parties to bridge our differences is wrong. In short, there will be pressure to compromise on tax increases. We will be told that there is no other way forward. I respectfully disagree.
As we have said from the beginning of the year, the new Republican Majority was elected to change the way Washington does business. We were not elected to raise taxes or take more money out of the pockets of hard working families and business people. People understand Washington can’t keep spending money that it doesn’t have. They want to see less government – not more taxes.
Not only has Cantor chosen to ignore S&P, he has his facts wrong about the American people. Polling conducted by the New York Times and CBS News found last week that half of Americans did, in fact, support the inclusion of new revenues in the debt deal, and numerous polls have shown wide support for ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, a proposal that would reduce the federal deficit by $830 billion over the next decade. S&P today called the full expiration of the Bush tax cuts, which would save $4 trillion in the next decade, one of the major steps in restoring the nation’s AAA credit rating.
Given that S&P downgraded the U.S. in part because of political instability brought on by the GOP taking the economy hostage, Cantor urging his colleagues to ignore the agency’s warning likely won’t help the government’s attempts to avoid yet another downgrade in the future.