Axelrod laments 'tea party downgrade'
August 7th, 2011
12:57 PM ET
10 years ago

Axelrod laments 'tea party downgrade'

(CNN) - President Barack Obama's chief re-election strategist on Sunday blamed Standard & Poor's downgrade of the United States' credit rating on tea party conservatives who made raising the federal debt ceiling a political issue.

"This is essentially a tea party downgrade," David Axelrod told the CBS program "Face the Nation." "The tea party brought us to the brink of a default."

Axelrod, who left the White House earlier this year to focus on Obama's 2012 campaign, said the country was pushed to the financial brink by some conservative Republicans.

"It was the wrong thing to do to push the country to that point. And it's something that that should never have happened," Axelrod said. "That clearly is on the backs of those who were willing to see the country default, those very strident voices in the tea party."

However, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham pushed back, saying that proposals from members of the tea party movement could have prevented the S&P downgrade.

"If we'd listened to the tea party, we'd have $4 trillion reductions in debt over time and not been downgraded," the South Carolina senator said on the CBS program. "The tea party hasn't destroyed Washington; Washington was destroyed before the tea party got there."

Axelrod also blamed politics for the S&P move that demoted the United States from its AAA rating to AA+ Friday.

"They made an egregious analytical error here, but theirs was largely a political analysis, and that is what we should focus on," Axelrod said of S&P. "We made some progress in the compromise that was struck on the debt. What we're saying is we have to make more progress."

Filed under: David Axelrod • Debt • Deficit • Tea Party movement
soundoff (594 Responses)
  1. Dan

    Senator Graham, it appears you forget that the House walked away from the Presidential bi-partisan committees $4 trillion debt reduction.
    The House rejected the bipartisan Senate's $3.7 trillion debt reduction plan.
    The House walked away from President Obama's $4-4.7 trillion debt reduction plan that required shared pain from both Democrats and Republicans. For a few weeks prior to the Boehner/McConnell plan, the President was on the air asking citizens to contact their lawmakers telling them to support the "grand bargain's" much larger debt reduction plan.

    The President even warned us that Congress needed to pass a $4 trillion debt reduction plan in order to avoid the credit lowering. It was the House who laughed the President's warning off.

    Remember, the House and the Senate GOP voted for Ryan's plan that did nothing to slow down the spending over the next 10 years. In fact, the Ryan plan that the GOP overwhelmingly voted for did not produce a balanced budget until 2040 (years after the bipartisan debt committee's plan that Ryan voted against).

    Any plan requires the extremes in both the Democratic and Republican parties to be told they are wrong. At this point, the President seems to be the only one who is listening. The extremes in both parties need to be given new employment opportunities.

    Congress left for a 6 week vacation after they refused to listen to the President's call for $4 trillion in debt reduction. Shame on Congress!

    August 7, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  2. Cut spending

    It's never Obamas fault! First Bush then Japan and the up risings in the middle east and now is the Tea Party. When will this clown Obama take responsibility? NOV 2012 can't come soon enough.

    August 7, 2011 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  3. Russell Dee

    Axelrod is right but why isn't President Obama using his bully-pulpit to fight back against GOP charges that the downgrade is Obama's fault? Why isn't President Obama standing up at his bully-pulpit and laying the blame on the GOP/tea-party like he should be doing? I am really concerned that the President lacks fire in his belly and toughness. If a person is accused of something, as the GOP is accusing him of causing the debt downgrade, then if the accused does not stand up for himself people will believe that he really is at fault. The President needs to stand up and defend himself loudly and forcefully. By not doing so he is appearing weak and injurred by the messy situation. He needs to stand up and assert himself. If he turns it into a public debate between himself and the GOP he can win because the facts are on his side since S & P blamed the political process during the debt limit debate rather than the actual numbers. Obama can win a "blame" debate when it comes to the downgrade, but in order to win he has to get to his feet and step into the ring. Why isn't he doing so. He has to go on the attack, be tough, be assertive, and use the facts to assign blame where it belongs – the tea-party/GOP. If he doesnt get on with doing this it won't just be him that will suffer, it will also be other democratic candidates running for election, and the democratic constituencies. Obama nees to fight back now!!!!!! If he doesn't then the people of America may start to believing the downgrade is his fault and is democrats fault.

    August 7, 2011 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  4. Pat

    I praise the Tea Party for the hard work they are doing. They are finally making career Washington politics stop thinking only about their elections and start thinking about this country. They are trying to say we have had enough! I just don't understand the people who insist that the endless spending we are doing is the right thing to do. They are not listening to Europe who followed this path themselves and are struggling to stay alive. They are warning us to stop making the same mistakes they did. Yet!! We have a group running our country who are not listening to anyone. They don't listen to the voters or the people who have experienced the direction we are going in and saying don't do it! We need to change the people sitting in the seats in Washington in 2012 if we last that long!!

    August 7, 2011 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  5. Jon

    Where was the tea party when the previous administration spent all the money it did ?

    August 7, 2011 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  6. OhioGirl

    What has pushed us to the brink is not the Tea Party... It is years and years of bad financial management/decisions by government, both democrat AND republican - as well as ours (the voters) for letting it happen. Enough arguing over who is to blame... It's done. Let's just focus on fixing the problem (instead of pointing fingers) before something worse happens. A good Cut up the govt credit cards, find a another income source, and pay down the debt.

    August 7, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  7. lJH

    Has Washington learned nothing? The American public is sick and tired of the finger pointing and blame game. Bottom line.... The President is not a strong enough leader to deal with all the factions and politics that is taking place on his watch. Like him...don't like him... He does not have the right skill set to lead the country with the problems we face. Starting with Washington itself. I am so sick and tired of the mentality that our leaders have, and the citizens of this country are the true loosers. I dread the mistruths that are going to flood the airways as election time rolls around. I wish they could all be fired without severance or benefits going forward. They ALL contribute to the mess... .No one is solution focused if they are pointing the finger at another. This guys opinion....He is getting paid to deliver it. Lest we be so foolish to think otherwise?

    August 7, 2011 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  8. KBNJ

    Axelrod's just doing his job, but what's amazing is how many people buy into his propaganda. Think about it – it's like having your spouse spend you into oblivion and then having him/her blame YOU for your credit downgrade after you fight to cut spending instead of begging for MORE credit. It'd be funny if I didn't care about my kids' future.

    August 7, 2011 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    the republicans walked away from a 4 trillion dollar deal that could have prevented this down grading. You will hear from us next fall "tea party "

    August 7, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  10. November 2010

    Here's a novel idea, why not put the blame on the president? Wasn't it Harry Truman who said "the buck stops here"? The President's lack of leadership brought us to where we are today, period. And for those of you who keep insisting that the tea party is irrelevant, just look at you now. Still think that?

    August 7, 2011 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  11. lmoranti

    How about stop playing the blame game and come together and do what is right for the country? Everyone is so petty and so quick to blame this group blame that group....blame the president....NEWSFLASH: The president doesnt have the power to do it on his own. There is a Republican House and a Democratic Senate that deals with it first. It got past both of them. So hmmmmm doesnt that mean the Democrats are equally to blame? I am so sick of everything being about which party you belong to. Get rid of them both, and lets do what is right for the country....and yes I know I am dreaming that this will EVER happen.

    August 7, 2011 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  12. Lttl GTO

    I wholeheartedly concur with Mr. Axelrod, "we have to make more progress." It is a complete shame that the Dems are unwilling to do what is right for the American of today and for their children's tomorrow. Raising taxes on anyone while refusing to cut 'give away' programs (erroneously called entitlements by Dems), is a gauranteed way to drive us down the path toward the demise of our country. We must learn to tax ALL people equally. We must penalize ALL businesses that hire illegal aliens, while enforcing our current immigration laws. We must put Americans back to work, while removing 'give aways' from those that are unwilling to work. Of course, this means that those officials who rely on a percentage of freeloaders to increase the size of their constituency will be quickly voted out...sorry Dems.

    August 7, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. Russell Dee

    President Obama will you please stand up and give the GOP the debt fight they deserve? The facts say that S & P downgraded American debt because of the intransigence of the tea-party/GOP and that means that it really is the tea-party/GOP fault, but it means nothing if you won't get in there and fight and defend yourself agains the GOP charges that you caused the debt downgrade. The American people already blame the GOP/tea-party for the debt ceiling mess so the blame for the downgrade is really just an extension of that so you can win the debate if you will just get into the ring and fight back. Please defend yourself and lay the blame where it belongs – on the GOP/tea-party. You can win the battle if you will just fight it.

    August 7, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  14. Dave

    S&P downgrade report, page 4. We were downgraded for not raising taxes. It WAS the Tea Party. All you Republican supporters need to stop the god damned lying! Every single one of you is morally responsible for doing it. You are a disgrace to this country.

    August 7, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  15. Oxford Voter

    Tea Party Mad Hatters will have all the tantrums they believe are necessary to weaken this Presidency. It will not work. We had a landslide in 2008 and the Tea Party has just CLEARLY demonstrated why we will reelect our president by yet another in 2012. Rhetoric and sound bytes will not fix the U.S, although the TP sheep clearly believe that's all it takes.

    August 7, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  16. caren

    The torch has now been passed from George Bush to the Tea Party. GO DEMS!!!!

    August 7, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  17. gtbdave

    S & P's said they downgraded because of the buffoonery by the tea party, it they had just raised the debt ceiling without all the campainging, buffoonery S & P's probably wouldn't have even considered downgrading. The shocking thing was that they were willing to trash the whole economy, in order to forced their failed ideology on the rest of us, about 80%, and the democrats, and Obama, were opposed to such crazy nonsense. It really showed that Washington, the tea party, was not responsible, they were a group of crazy ideologues, willing to destroy everything if they didn't get their way. Even when they got their way, there was a downgrade, as well as all kinds of econmic turmoil that will cause mountains of debt, and huge losses, and certainly millions of job losses. Now they say they are about jobs, that's really a warning to people who still have jobs. They are likely to destroy many more jobs, to add to the millions they have already destroyed. Any job creating idea is probably just more tax breaks to the rich, which only destroys more jobs, they will probably not create any jobs, certainly not a fraction of those that they already destroyed. If it's an ideological debate, it's supply side vs. Keynes, and supply side has no record of success, all failure, recession, huge debt, massive joblessness, declining wages/salaries, etc. The only macro economic policy that we ever had that worked is Keynes. Most politicians, media, voters, don't have the knowledge to frame the debate, it's just jingles, and talking in riddles. Like wrong track, what's right and what's wrong track? An ideological debate, but what's the ideologies? It's about politics, but what are the political positions, or policies that are under debate? It's all riddles. You can't talk in riddles, come out and say what you mean. You have macro economic policies, what are they, Keynes, or supply side? One works, the other one doesn't, obviously. Define which is which, don't talk in riddles. If you don't know, just shut the .... up.

    August 7, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  18. Craig

    The posters who claim the Tea Party had a plan to save our country from this crisis are correct. But the crisis is still the Tea Parties fault, and the downgrade is on their shoulders. Why? Because a plan that has no room to compromise has no chance of becoming law, and is completely irresponsible. Someone could have proposed closing the debt simply by raising taxes, or by completely defunding the military, and that would be "a plan to avoid the crisis" but would have been wholly irresponsible. Tea Party Republicans are setting us up for failure, and moderate Republicans only real chance to affect positive legislation is to look to align themselves with moderate Democrats, not their own far right wing. This is how the Democratic party works today, and is the only way we are going to have reasonable legislation going forward.

    August 7, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  19. Santa Monica

    I love these wingnut comments about "Obama gave us 14 trillion worth of debt!" when the vast majority of this was due to Bush's policies. The selective memories on some of you people are absolutely stunning. Thanks Tea Party, keep on pushing ignorant policies that would cause you to fail an Econ 101 exam until we're at junk bond status. Unbelievable.

    August 7, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  20. NeptuneRex

    Surely he jests, Obama loved how the tea party reacted to the dept crises, he even said so according to CNN: Obama praised the deal as "an important first step for ensuring that as a nation we live within our means."

    August 7, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  21. JThomas2121

    This would be comedy if it wasn't so sad. What happened to all that 'hope and change' Obama promised? He ignored his own debt commission's recommendations because it would cut into his voting base. If it weren't for the Tea Party, there would have been NO deficit reductions at all.

    Just look at the Democratic party right now ... the one that had a legal obligation to pass a budget last October, when they had a supermajority and anything they wanted would have passed ... they punted until AFTER the election because they didn't want to lose more seats from angry voters. Hmm ... why would the voters be angry with them on the budget? Hmm ... could it be that they just want to tax and spend? Tax and spend? Yeah, and Axelrod thinks we're that stupid to fall for his lies. Well, not all us are, Mr. Axelrod. At least not the ones who want to wreck this country.

    August 7, 2011 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  22. Russell Day

    A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.
    Winston Churchill

    From Russell Day. Something to think about! I wish for congress to take ownership, instead of pointing the finger.

    August 7, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  23. DaveNYUSA

    If Axelrod's campaign strategy is as successful as his comb-over, Barry better start updating his resume.

    August 7, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  24. edvhou812

    The Tea Party helped screw us, but are we really going to listen to Obama's chief re-election strategist for a credible opinion? Of course he is going to try to shift all of the blame away from Obama, because that's part of his job. Sure, the Democrats dug their heels in too, and Obama did nothing to lead, but Axelrod will be more than happy to shift 100% of the blame on the Tea Party when it is really 50/50.

    August 7, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  25. Bastiat

    Yes its the tea party's fault.

    It couldn't possibly be the fault of politicians like Kerry that have voted on dozens of budgets that created a 14 trillion dollar debt. It couldn't possibly be Obama's fault for submitting yet another budget with a 1.4 trillion dollar deficit. It couldn't possibly be the Republicans that led us in to two wars but never made tough decisions on how to finance those operations. It couldn't possibly be the Democrats that campaign on more welfare programs without paying for them. It couldn't possibly be because of all the past COMPROMISES where Repubs would get lower taxes for everyone in exchange for letting the Democrats spend more.

    Yes, the only people to blame are those group of 80 or so congressmen that have been in office less than 8 months, voted on one budget and one debt-ceiling increase. Yes, those that advocate for a balanced-budget and letting people keep what they earn are the reason the U.S. is in this current position. GIVE ME A BREAK

    August 7, 2011 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
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