Ever since the credit rating agency S&P downgraded U.S. credit to AA+ on Friday night, Republicans have desperately trying to pin the blame on President Obama, even though, as National Journal put it, “it’s hard to read the S&P analysis as anything other than a blast at Republicans.” S&P called out the GOP for using the debt ceiling as a political football and for its flat refusal to consider new revenue as part of any plan to reduce long-term deficits.
Earlier this week Rep. Allen West (R-FL) claimed that the S&P downgrade “has nothing to do with increasing revenues,” while some Republicans have said that passing a Balanced Budget Amendment would have prevented the downgrade, both of which S&P disagreed with. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) yesterday jumped into the same pool, saying that the downgrade could have been avoided if only Democrats had embraced the House Republican budget and its plan to eliminate Medicare:
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) blamed President Obama and the Democrats Tuesday for the recent downgrading of the U.S. credit rating, saying that if Democrats had joined with Republicans in passing the GOP budget, which the House passed in April, “it’s unlikely anyone would be talking about the United States being downgraded today.” [...]
“S&P said in its own report Friday that entitlement reform is the key to long-term financial stability. We passed a budget through the House in April that includes entitlement reform, and cuts more than $6 trillion. The Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama have prevented most of those reforms from happening. And that’s why we have a downgrade,” Boehner said in an excerpt of his prepared remarks obtained by The Hill. [...]
“The President and the Democratic leadership in Washington are trying to blame the tea party, because they know this downgrade is on [the Democrats]. When we took the bold step of proposing entitlement reforms, they reacted not by embracing them and joining us, but by demonizing those proposals for political gain,” Boehner said.
While the S&P release announcing the downgrade does say that containing costs in Medicare is key to long-term fiscal sustainability, it also explicitly says that the fact that “new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options” was a justification for the downgrade. Nowhere does it say that wholesale voucherizing of Medicare is in any way a preferable policy.
S&P also noted that “compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act.” But for Boehner, the downgrade is not reason for reexamining the GOP’s intransigence on taxes, but occasion for doubling down on its plan to end Medicare and throw seniors into the individual health insurance market.