(CNN)-It's early, and State of the Union is bringing you the best of the morning headlines to go with your cup of coffee.
On our radar: A downgraded U.S. credit rating, the threat of cyber attacks, and the latest in Syria.
Check out what we're reading, and watch the show today at 9am/12pm ET with our economic panel: Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and Forbes CEO Steve Forbes.
In an unusual Saturday conference call with reporters, senior S.& P. officials insisted the ratings firm hadn’t overstepped its bounds by focusing on the political paralysis in Washington as much as fiscal policy in determining the new rating. “The debacle over the debt ceiling continued until almost the midnight hour,” said John B. Chambers, chairman of S.& P.’s sovereign ratings committee.
“For those who follow the fiscal situation of the United States, this shouldn’t be news to anyone,” Mr. Chambers said.
The ratings agency's decision on Friday to downgrade the credit rating of the U.S. government to AA+ from AAA – stripping the U.S. of the highest rating for the first time in 70 years – was 100% correct.
There are a lot of reasons the U.S. no longer deserves the S&P's highest credit rating. Not all are political. U.S. growth is slowing. The current recovery has dragged on at an anemic pace for more than two years, and it's not clear when that will end. Economists had been looking for the U.S. GDP to grow 3% this year. It will be more like 2%. But the slower growth trend is likely to extend past the current recovery, no matter when we pull out of it. The recoveries from the past two recessions have been among the slowest on record, and suggests the underlying strength of the U.S. economy is weakening.
Global policymakers held an emergency conference call on Sunday to discuss the twin debt crises in Europe and the United States that are causing market turmoil and stoking fears of the rich world sliding back into recession.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wants Timothy Geithner to resign as secretary of the Treasury, according to an aide to the GOP leader.
Boehner has called on Geithner to step down before, but an aide to Boehner reaffirmed Saturday morning that the Speaker wants Geithner to leave.
Candidates who anchor the bottom of the straw poll results could see their campaigns written off as comatose, whether they choose to drop out soon after or not, said Wisconsin Republican Tommy Thompson, who made a play for the White House in 2007.
When he finished sixth, “I knew I was dead,” Thompson said in a phone interview with The Des Moines Register. “It wiped me out and took all my money, and I thought I was just starting to come into my own.”
Mr. Obama’s approval ratings are below 50 percent in electoral battlegrounds like Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to recent polls there. His party’s political infrastructure has been weakened in crucial states where Republicans won statehouses last year, though the White House sees potential benefit in a reaction to the unpopular policies of new Republican governors in states like Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.
A group of online hackers says it has gained access to more than 70 law enforcement agency websites in the United States, obtaining emails, credit card information and other sensitive data in retaliation for the arrests of alleged members in the U.S. and England.
The group, called AntiSec, said Saturday that it had breached 10 gigabytes of sensitive data from the agencies. AntiSec is composed of members from two separate hacking groups, Anonymous and LulzSec.
AntiSec said its cyber-attack affected agencies in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi. The group launched similar attacks against law enforcement in Arizona in June.
Our allies in the Arab League and in Turkey could play a critical role in pressuring Assad — they have economic and diplomatic ties with Syria that the United States does not. Congress and the administration should make efforts to leverage these relationships for a comprehensive regional approach to the crisis in Syria. We should also applaud our allies who have rejected the Assad regime.
Meanwhile, the United States should continue to pursue a resolution at the U.N. Security Council condemning the Syrian government’s behavior. Last week’s statement by the council was a positive step but should be bolstered by a strong resolution.
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