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. Lonestar1836

    Tea Party = Betrayal of America, our history and our ideals. KICK THE BUMS OUT!

    August 7, 2011 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  2. Stop Watching Faux News

    The 'Tea Party' terrorists are absolutely blamed for this – they are anti-government, anti-American, and will destroy this nation if they have the chance. They are not fiscally responsible (where were they when Bush was running up record deficits... where were they when Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times and tripled the nation's debt?) . It is so funny that when we have our first black president, an extremist fringe group that likes to claim they aren't just another ilk of the Republican party comes about and wants to talk about the spending they have consistently endorsed until now.. what a laugh.

    August 7, 2011 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  3. edmundburkeson

    The missing premise is that Axelrod believes that raising taxes is the only way to increase government revenues. Liberals never see spending cuts or growing the private sector as a way to increase the financial health of government.

    August 7, 2011 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  4. Gedwards

    If nothing else, this Administration has perfected the art of blaming others.

    August 7, 2011 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  5. chris

    When you start talking about NOT paying your bills, credit agencies are going to act!!
    The Tea Party was doing just that!

    August 7, 2011 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  6. bill

    This mess started with Bush. It was easy to predict that Obama would be blamed as soon as he took office. Dang I'm good.

    August 7, 2011 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  7. Ryan

    Tea Party Mike. You failed to include one attribute of the S&P Downgrade and it's a big one my friend, NO REVENUE INCREASES. SS, Medicare and Revenue were the key attributes of the downgrade. One of which was uncompromisable, REVENUE. Dems compromised and put SS & Medicare reform on the table in return for Revenue increases. Make no mistake the ONLY reason that did not fly is REVENUE increases. REVENUE is on the backs of Norquist & The Tea Party, make no mistake about that.

    August 7, 2011 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  8. Beliz

    Balme the Tea Party & Republicans

    August 7, 2011 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  9. Ehssn

    Something has got to give. Just cutting expenditure alone is not enough, you need to generate revenue as well. And the ONLY way for a government to do that is to tax. The welfare of your state or taxing the higher percentile of Americans who have benefited the most from the system?

    1. Democrats rejected Republican's and Tea Party proposals because the spending cuts were digging into welfare and social security.

    2. S&P downgraded because they saw a continuation of BUSH's tax cuts which was supposed to expire, which means THE U.S will NOT be EARNING REVENUE.

    3. Why harp on SPENDING alone? A huge chunk of Obama's spending was for the economic stimulus, which was crucial to stabilising the downward spiralling economy caused by credit rating agencies such as Standard and Poors AND deregulating the financial trade sector during BUSH'S presidency.

    4. Democrats vsRepublicans when it comes to debt crisis. Bill Clinton (Dem) had a SURPLUS during his presidency..a surplus which because of Bush, turned into debt after waging unecessary wars!

    5. Those who favour Tea Party need to get their heads examine. The BOSTON Tea Party no tax philosophy made economic sense back in the day– the taxes were not circulated in the US but rather to England. TAXES collected NOW, PRESENTLY is RE-INVESTED into the country's expenditures and programs. The fact that they call themselves The Tea Party makes me think they live in wonderland. Get real!

    Don't just focus cutting expenditures. Think about what the spendings are on. WARS or WELFARE? Investing is cleaner energy is essential especially with PEAK OIL. Investing the education and social security is needed on all levels of society. Tax is a necessary evil. Money needs to earned to absolve the nation's debts.

    To put it simply, do you work to get money and live a comfortable, healthy educated life or simply eat less...hand to mouth? Point is: REVENUE!

    August 7, 2011 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  10. CBR

    Unfortunately, those representing the TEA Party were unwilling to compromise or work together with other members of Congress. We could cut social programs but the costs would go to the states. Until people find jobs we must be willing to help each other. That is the one thing that the TEA Party has not talked about. I keep wondering who is paying for the members to be in Washington so often. It is expensive to keep going back and forth from their homes to D.C.

    The biggest budget item is the war. The money needed was never put into the budget. The Bush administration thought we could have guns and butter and this was a way to placate the nation. We will pay for the war for many years. It is our responsibility to see to it that every veteran receives the proper medical care. That will be an expense we must undertake. Senator Graham was in Washington serving in the Senate when all the money (which we did not have) was being allocated for the war.

    S&P is an independent agency however, I wonder what really prompted the lowering of our credit rating. It is very strange that they have never done this before when the debt ceiling had to be raised. There is lots of blame to go around. Nobody won this round. In fact, the stalling and failure to reach a compromise cost us a lot of money.

    I still believe that all members of Congress should receive a pay cut to counteract the pay given to them when they were not representing their constituents. Sitting on your hands does not qualify you for a pay check. This country will not move forward if people continue to be so strident. We need to get past all of this wrangling and work together to provide legislation which deals with the problems the country is facing. No one side has all the answers and that would include the TEA Party..

    August 7, 2011 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  11. Mary

    Teaparty, Cantor, Boehler, McConnoll all want the U.S. to faiil Party of NO is responsible for this downgrade.

    August 7, 2011 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  12. The_dude

    Every time one of obamas minions blames the tea party an angel get its wings. Strike 2 for the obama socialists....strike 3 will be the 2012 election.

    August 8, 2011 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  13. Mary

    remeber Palin said this would never happen that Obama was just puting fear in people. Why is she so silent????
    Stupidity on her part.

    August 8, 2011 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  14. bill

    obama is a disaster.

    August 8, 2011 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  15. Ethan

    Obama does not control the economy or congress they hardly relate. You can't blame a failing economy (that started prior to his presidency and was clearly going to last longer than his 4 years) on the president, it's all on the investors and congress for lack of regulation in the first place. BTW for those of you who are against spending if you check out a graph of federal spending when FDR was in office during the Great Depression and the unemployment rate and other economic indicators it is VERY clear we need to be spending more (preferably in something that isn't the defense because they have no clue what they're doing with that cash).

    August 8, 2011 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  16. Tea Anyone?

    Remember, all of those 'big number cuts', like $4 Trillion, were to occur over a 10-year period – with no serious cuts in the foreseeable future. How can anyone blame this on the Tea Party when Tea Party candidates only became a factor in the past year? The table was set for this debacle many years and presidencies ago. People are beginning to wake up – the professional politicians (from both parties) are in 'a heep o' trouble' come the next election.

    August 8, 2011 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  17. Glen

    The Tea Party simply wants to shrink the Federal Government, and get control of the spawn of the Great Society programs. I liked Johnson and he meant well, but things got out of hand three decades ago and this is the reckoning. If the Obama administration is unsuited for dealing with this reckoning, they should all go back to ChiTown and stay there.

    August 8, 2011 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  18. David from San Diego

    The Republican leadership could have compromised early on and gotten $4 trillion in reduction. Mature adult Eric Cantor walked out of a meeting. Not closing tax loopoles for the wealthy and corporate America was more important to the Republican leadership. In the end, its about values. The independent voters and the hispanic votes will get the Republican message loud & clear and respond in the 2012 election. The downgrade will cost them and they won't forget the Republican values that allowed it to happen.

    August 8, 2011 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  19. Molly Weasley

    If you read page four of S&P's budget, you'll see clearly that they lay the fault of this downgrade on the unwillingness of the Rethugs to raise taxes.

    We haven't paid such low taxes since the 1950s. The Bush tax cuts and two wars - all passed by Republican congresses under a Republican president - were what created the deficit. Of course, "Deficits don't matter," as Dick Cheney said when he was vice president. I guess they only matter when you're trying to ruin the economy even more when a Democrat is president, right?

    Speaker Bonehead wasted weeks kowtowing to the teabaggers. And now we see the result.

    A Tea Party downgrade - nothing could be more accurate.

    August 8, 2011 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  20. Ron

    Tea Party is the reason for the near catastrophic economic collapse of the USA. Thankfully, it's just a minor collapse going on right now. Tea Party are selfish buggers with bloated bank accounts to sustain themselves and couldn't care less for all of the struggling Americans. How did the political system allow these guys a voice anyways??

    August 8, 2011 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  21. Scott A

    Axelrod must be forgetting that Obama is the one who offered to placate the Tea party by putting Social Security, Medicare, and $4 trillion in cuts on the table. Actually, Axelrod probably doesn't forget – he and the White House just hope progressives and liberals weren't paying attention. We aren't the stupid voters (that's the tea party fans). We remember the White House telling us to "stop whining" when we were upset about Obama caving in. Progressives care about America and the deals that Obama made show he does not care about America. At the least, he's a centrist. At the very most, he's just another Bush-clone Republican. Obama's last days of being a progressive were when he was in his teens and 20s. He sold out and fooled us in 2008 to where we thought he was the real deal.

    August 8, 2011 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  22. cj

    Obama doesn't do anything wrong, right? He only takes all the credit for the positive actions and blames others for the bad. Just like Obama only appears on television to speak with Americans when the Navy SEALs have a successful mission...

    August 8, 2011 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  23. jester

    Axelrod is a true propagandist. Conservatives across the country have been quite vocal in "cut spending now", and long before the "crisis" of August 2nd. Have you noticed Obama will create an "armageddon" date, and then back away and do absolutely nothing until the last moment? I like that proactive approach. Back to Axelrod: dude, how could anyone support Obama, when he's had people like Axelrod, Gibbs, Carney, etc., do the majority of his dirty work? He's like the general who makes his "inferiors" carry the mine charges to the target. Just in case it blows up, he can say he wasn't there. Is this our president? YYYyyyep... And don't go and say I'm a "domestic terrorist", just because I used a war analogy. It's the president's job to lecture us about civility, and then say, "if they bring a knife, we bring a gun". If it wasn't so tragic, it would be hilarious.

    August 8, 2011 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  24. Jason

    How quickly people forget, Obama wanted a clean raise of the debt ceiling with no debt reduction and now people are blaming the Tea Party for making him agree to some cuts, even if the deal is horrible and we never actually see any of the cuts and even if the cuts get us no where close to a balanced budget. People quit being stupid and think for yourself, no one with any ability to critically think for themselves can blame the Tea Party for the downgrade, what a joke.

    August 8, 2011 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling when he was a senator. What a hypocrite! Where is all the outrage at him for doing that?

    August 8, 2011 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
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