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. Proto

    How low can you get – blame George Bush then the Tea Party (which is a movement not a political party), the Republicans. and whoever strikes your fancy. The problem is due to the fact that you guys and gals sat on your hands and refused to pass a budget for two years. This is raw incompetence and is characteristic of what you would expect from a narcissistic adolescent. Grow up!

    August 8, 2011 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  2. 66Biker

    It was a political stupidity downgrade, that much is certain. But I wouldn't be too quick to blame one party when the problem was all across the board. It was the flat out refusal of Democrats and Republicons to work together for the betterment of the country that caused this and many other preventable problems this country has had recently.

    August 8, 2011 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  3. Mark Wetherell

    I don't get it. S&P downgraded our credit rating because we didn't do enough to cut spending. The Tea Party said no new taxes. I am glad that the Democrats aren't taking any responsibility for the mess they have managed to create while in control of both the house and the senate since 06 and the White house for two years. Nice job boys. The Tea Party is elected into the House as a minority in the last election and it is their fault. They aren't even a majority, but they do have principles and that scares the crap out of both the Republican and the Democrats. We aren't through yet. There is no time for business as usual in Washington. We did not get here overnight and we wont correct it overnight. There is more than enough blame to go around but the Tea Party is only the messenger. You simply can not spend more than you bring in, it is called bankruptcy. That is why S&P downgraded the credit worthiness of the US Government AND YOU STILL DON'T GET IT. What Axelrod is telling the American People is you got it wrong, S&P got it wrong we are the only the ones that know how to fix this. WELL YOU SHOULD YOU ARE THE ONES IN CHARGE, NOT ON MY WATCH.

    August 8, 2011 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  4. The Day of Financial Reckoning is HERE – The Great Democrat Welfare Society Ends

    What a surprise.... The top Obama political hatchet man is blaming somebody else yet again for one of Obama's failures. Why did Obama run for the office if he is NEVER willing to lead or accept responsibility? It seems he just likes the limelight, perks and listening to himself talk, and talk, and talk....

    August 8, 2011 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  5. Paul

    For all those people that talk about spending being out of hand, can you list what the spending is? Because some of the spending some of you cite has been paid back, like some of the auto bail outs, some Tarp, some is paid back with interest. So I would like to see what you all think Obama's spending all that money on? Doesn't it have to be approved by congress? Wouldn't that make it all their spending?

    August 8, 2011 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  6. Larry

    And where was all this concern about spending when bush started 2 unfunded conflics and numerous other "off" budget spending sprees? I didn't hear the Republicans complaining about all that money.

    August 8, 2011 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  7. Mike D

    Remember how the Bush tax breaks got extended? The same tactics then as now. And the same people.

    August 8, 2011 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  8. JerseyMike

    I blame on the tea party. Republican congressmen were terrified by the tea party. Why? Most people do not vote during primaries, yet Tea Party members do. Tea Party threaten to unseat any republicans who do not obey its agenda. Even though tea party is still a minority in the republican party, they can unproportionally control the outcomes of the Republican primaries.

    There must be patriotic republican congressmen/women who put our nation ahead of their own elections. I believe a few good men/women will rise up to save our nation from being destroyed by those Tea Partiers who don't know what they are doing.

    August 8, 2011 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  9. ST

    We escaped the shutdown and now stepping on downgraded. Too many cooks in the kitchen. The intruders (Tea Party), should get out of the kitchen. They are putting too much salt in each food and it tastes awful!

    August 8, 2011 02:30 am at 2:30 am |

    hmm...I hear Democrats saying here that Republicans and Boehner left some spending cuts on the table. Be sure the Dems bring back those spending cuts, and we'll be sure Republicans match an exceed those savings. We need BIG Spending Cuts== That's the only way to brig back our AAA credit rating. Tea Party is the ONLY group fighting for BIG Spending Cuts. Tea Party is te solution, not the problem.

    Had we not raised the debt ceiling, we would automatically have a balanced budget. It's time to force Congress to spend less.

    August 8, 2011 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  11. GLO

    How could anyone think it was the fault of anybody but the tea party? The US was at the brink of default and TP'ers were ready to let us default, an obviously bad sign to our creditors. And for what? So that their funders, wealthy corporations, could have tax breaks they don't need and we can't afford. How any middle class voter could support the destruction of our economy, and requisition of worker rights, women's rights, environmental standards that protect us from industry pollution so that corporations can make an extra buck, is a mystery to me. It's like an epidemic of stupidity.

    August 8, 2011 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  12. Geo

    It's funny reading Right wing comments, everything is someone else's fault. Democrats, Obama,etc. Never is anything the responsibility of Republicans or the Tea Party. It makes it hard to take their point of view seriously. At one point in the negotiations, there were four trillion in cutbacks on the table, the Democrats had almost completely caved in, except for some minor tax loopholes for the wealthy elite, but the Tea Partiers wanted it 100%, no compromise, and they lost (or no one won), the economy is tanking and they deserve the blame.

    August 8, 2011 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  13. Jay

    Axelrod is spot on. The mistake that Obama made was i compromising too much and getting nothing in return. How anybody could review what transpired and NOT put this manmade disaster on the tea party is truly mind-boggling. The retro-spin going on right now is a continuation of Karl Rove's con-game of repeating a lie over and over until the lazy-thinking populace buys in.

    August 8, 2011 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  14. SixDegrees

    Axelrod: "Gentlemen, we've got to protect our phony-baloney jobs!"

    It's astonishing that, hours after the S&P report stated that the heart of this problem is the finger-pointing and refusal to compromise plaguing Washington, this twit crawls out from under a rock and...starts finger-pointing and refusing to compromise. Look for more downgrades in the near future.

    August 8, 2011 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  15. Mike

    OK Tea Party backers...Not saying he is 100% right because I do blame all parties for the mess on the debt ceiling. BUT, S & P specifically sited the fact that revenues appear not to be included in the deal was one of the 3 or 4 main reasons they gave in their release about the downgrade. So you can say what you want about Tea Party's plan to cut spending. But, because it did not include revenue generation (like taxing the people who can actually afford it and do not employ anybody directly from their salary's anymore, this is why Bush's tax cuts DID NOT create jobs and before you comment LOOK IT UP) the down grade still was very much on the table with S & P. They did not want to see one way or the other, they actually wanted to see compromise both sides working together in the best interest of the country. And the only side who seemed not willing to compromise was on the conservative side. Remember the President put everything on the table, SS and Medicare included. All the Republicans did was take things off and showed a total unwillingness to actually compromise.

    August 8, 2011 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  16. ahetch

    The tea party is truly a terrorist group and will do everything they can to bring this country down.

    August 8, 2011 03:34 am at 3:34 am |

    Obama blaims the Tea Party for the Downgrade? That is complete stupidity. Kerry also said this. The Tea Party members are fiscally responsible politically. That is crazy to blame them! Obama's $4T in spending caused this more than any reason. The Tea Party is just trying to stop this insane deficit spending. Obama, Geithner and Bernake have trashed the Dollar. It is shere stupidity to blame the Tea Party...displays complete ignorance. I am an independent and this greatly offends me that our president has stooped to something this stupid. Good grief, don't re-elect this poser....

    August 8, 2011 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  18. rene

    The Tea Party is fully to blame for this. The Unions would be more powerful than the TP if they all went on universal strike until taxes are raised on the rich and loopholes are closed for corporations. There would be no negotiating, just refusing to budge. Give the TP a taste of their own medicine! Think about it! Can you imagine how much corporations would lose if everybody went on strike? It would be the ultimate non-violent protest.

    August 8, 2011 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  19. Mike

    Man HelmetBreaker. You really need to learn some facts or you really need to take some Accounting 101. Medicare, SS and Medicad are funded accounts. Meaning we are paying directly into those program, it is not discressionary spending. Yes there are issues there but the balance sheet does not start at 0. (If you are not sure what a balance sheet is look it up).

    August 8, 2011 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  20. J.V.hodgson

    I Often wonder where the figure Of $4triliion in total first came from. I remember it well. It came about by Obama offering Boehner a debt and deficit comission appointed by congress. Boehner refused to join as its findings would have been an up down vote. So Obama went ahead with a "bi partisan appointed comission who put toghether Bowles Simpson report having a majority 11/18 in favor of its findings.
    This is the plan with $3 tr of expenditure cuts and some entitlement cuts but also $1tr of tax revenue = the oft referred to 3:1 ratio. During the negotiations Obama offered this again to Boehner he went away and 2 hours later rejects it because too many of his party Teaparty Republicans especially were already shouting loud and clear No taxes and worse still no debt ceiling increase. Get real politicians ( any kind) the reality of that would be introduce immediate cuts that save approx $2-3Bn per day, and every day you do not get that voted thru House and Senate and past a presidential veto you get deeper and deeper into default. Cut cap and balance is words failure to pay on time is default. Period. Those cuts only would have killed the US fragile economy and god help us on unemployment numbers.
    The solution a sort of sword of damocles threat when no agreement from New Gang of 12 ( would not want to underplay gang of six who were ignored 3 Repubs and 3 Dems in Senate) would mean the dems sacred cow of defense loses 500BN and Medicare looses $500BN and another $500bn ( minimum $300)has to come from else where in November.
    So tell me Tea partiers if you were so right and its not your fault will you say agin In November no debt increase and on cut cap and balance acceptable.
    If so never mind AA+ watch it drop to A- and the consequent guaranteed double dip recession.
    It dont take a genius or a Nobel economist to figure all this out just common sense.
    This kind ofpolitical stalemate as per the above blogs does not win elections it wins economic disaster and more unemployment.
    My only concerns are a) people more interested in blame than sensible fair to all solutions, b) Te tea part republicans would rather taste the effects of the sword of damocles than compromise on anything and for those who thinK $4tr came from Republicans it did not they wanted per Ryan $6 tr expenditure and benefits and social security cuts only.

    August 8, 2011 04:17 am at 4:17 am |
  21. WeThePeopleOfVirginia

    Scurrilous best describes David Axelrod.

    August 8, 2011 04:37 am at 4:37 am |
  22. Dave

    Is there anyone stupid enough to believe that everyone is to blame except the White House? Will the American people be stupid enough to vote Obama back for another term? I hope not.

    August 8, 2011 04:47 am at 4:47 am |
  23. AesopsRetreat_Forum

    Axelrod, just like Kerry is a Moron and a Liar....

    The TEA Party were the only ones who had several viable budget bills starting with the Ryan Bill several months back that nobody on the Left would take time to vote on. Not one Democrat budget Bill ever surfaced, just rhetoric. Not one Obama budget bill ever surfaced, just more rhetoric, until the very last day.

    The Left hemmed and hawed for months, dragged the economy further into the dirt, and now tries claiming the Right was holding everything back. Well that is a lie, and they are liars.

    This falls right in their lap and at Obama's feet. PERIOD

    August 8, 2011 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  24. Deb

    Politics in the age of the internet is rough and it's lowering the standards for public discourse and the media is empowering the brash and entertaining but undeserving. Politics at the federal level is not a curbside brawl. The fighting about raising a debt ceiling that's been raised over 70 times in a very routine way over its history was disturbing to watch and it has consequences. The real question is how can we negotiate in an honorable, just, fair, smart, wise way and respect all sides of the issues and come up with a reasonable solution. This is the true challenge of the 21st century – improving our skills at collaborating. What happened to norms about thinking win-win? We have all the tools – I think of the writers of "Getting to Yes", Ury- we just have to start using them at the level of Congress. We can't come up with intelligent solutions to a very basic everyday problem (budgets) if there's all this hysteria, name calling, bullying, blaming, judging, lack of reflection, lack of respect, tantrums, and lack of willingness to be reasonable and respectful. The world is watching and we have to step up to the next level of professional, smart, wise, skilled discourse and give up our cynicism. We can do it.

    August 8, 2011 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  25. Jack

    The tea party came into the budget ceiling negotiations from a position of strength. They said flat out - who cares if we default. And they also redefined default to mean the government would NOT default if they paid interest only on money due. They assumed it would be OK to NOT pay social security or medicare payments.

    The fix we need is; increased tax rates across all income levels and much bigger spending cuts than have been offered. The tea part is completely against any tax increases even when this country is going under.

    The tea party owns this fiasco and I'll be glad to see voters kick their butts in 2012. They deserve it. We need to take this country back from these selfish loons.

    August 8, 2011 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
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