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. Frank - Ohio

    What an idiot! It was the Tea Party who has actually passed a budget. The Tea Party is demanding a balanced budget. The Tea Party wants to end this wasteful spending. They have been pro-active on this issue. The President simply wants to borrow and spend record amounts. (Check out is proposed budget, if you need proof!)

    August 7, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. taylor

    One and done, what a bloodbath the pubs are going to take in 2012!!!!

    August 7, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. Wayne McGee

    Axelrod and those just like him are the problem. Spend, spend and whine when needing more money to spend. Cut foreign spending and quit wasting trying to save some that don't want want it.

    August 7, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Debby

    Here comes the blame game by the liberals! Face it Axelrod your doing a crappy job of leading.

    August 7, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. JoY

    Lindsey you helped Bush to ruin this nation. Why you and others of your ilk never stopped him from going into two wars and getting the prescription bil that was never paid for. You all expect Obama to undo the ills of EIGHT years in two years You all signed on to NO TAXES, and your party has aslo lived by the NO oath Why you didnt tell Boehner to side with the Moderate GOP's instead of siding with the hard headed never held office Tea Partiers . You and others bead the burden for bringing down this country , you all are now blaming Obama .

    August 7, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. SS

    Both sides have a point, spending needs to be reigned in AND the Bush tax cuts need to go (given the fact we have chosen to launch wars and that prescription Medicare plan). The fact that the Dems in this particular case were trying to compromise and the TP would not seems to me that the TP should shoulder more of the blame for the downgrade that took place. Either way, what I'm more concerned about is what both sides are planning to do to fix this mess. Or are they just going to keep pointing fingers?

    August 7, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. NFL1

    They must be held responsible – Obama and the House Repubs would have had a big deal weeks earlier without them! But whatever happens, it MUST be balanced for pain to hit all levels of our society, not sacrifice only by the poor and middle class who already suffer enough.

    August 7, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The Tea Party new is "TAKING OUR COUNTRY DOWNWARD". The S&P clearly stated the debt ceiling wasn't raised high enough and the Tea Baggers pushed back against President Obama's proposal to raise it higher. The terms and conditions are out of balance with the time frame and the debt ceiling amount vice versa is clearly a Tea Party "downgrade".

    August 7, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. condelessa

    I totally agree with Mr. Axelrod, and I am looking forward to President Obama and his Administration promoting these facts in each and every State of America when he campaigns for the 2012 election! The Tea Party AND the Republicans MUST take responsibility for their actions in the debt ceiling crisis!! They have taken ALL Americans hostage now, and caused us to be the most embarrassed Country in the world!! Politics is so dirty and ugly these days, NO American has the chance to live the American dream anymore!! In fact, now we ALL are faced with more economic trouble!! Thanks to George Bush and his determination to take trillions of dollars of SURPLUS MONEY, and authorize two wars, a Medicare Part D program (none of which were paid for, only put on America's credit card), and for George Bush not to even generate any job growth in this country for 8 years, AND giving TAX breaks to the rich and famous which also cost trillions of dollars!! Don't blame the Obama Administration. They inherited ALL of this debt the day Obama walked into the oval office. AND a recession to boot!! Trillions of dollars of the national debt is simply interest upon interest generated by loans from around the world!! The National Debt doesn't work much differently than our credit card debt . . . it simply has tons and tons more dollars of interest tacked on each and every cycle!! And that debt was all accumulated by George Bush!! That is PLAIN and SIMPLE POLITICS!!!

    August 7, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The Tea Party new slogan is "TAKING OUR COUNTRY DOWNWARD".

    August 7, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. bill

    More like a obama downgrade.

    August 7, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. Ron

    Washington was destroyed before the tea party got there. Yes, and George Bush & his cronies did it, long before Obama came to office.

    August 7, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Ask not what your country can do for you….JFK
    Four score and seven years ago…Lincoln
    Speak softly and carry a big stick…T. Roosevelt
    The only thing we have to fear….FDR
    Tear down this wall…RR
    There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America...Clinton
    Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses …Washington
    The buck stops here….Truman

    I inherited this problem…BHO

    August 7, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. Marc

    Congratulations on playing your political games, the result of which is that the American people lose. Clearly the two party system has stopped working in America. Both sides are useless. Neither side seems to remember that the essence of politics is compromise. Now the mainstream Republicans complicate the issue by not having the guts to stand up to the tea party, which, last time I looked, was still not the majority in the party. So this is America held hostage by politics, instead of being led by statesmen of both parties, who put the common good above the furthering of their own political ideologies and ambitions. How pitifully selfish and petty this poor excuse for politics has become.

    August 7, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. Independent_me

    Yes, it is very clear that the Tea Party's ignorance of how the government operates and the importance of raising the debt ceiling to pay for the debts that Congress had already approved of and incurred caused this situation. They were voted into office through using simple slogans that the electorate believed and responded to (e.g. "reduce the size of government!"). However, government is more complex than slogans imply. Hopefully the people who voted them into office now understand the consequence of simply embracing slogans that appeal to the emotions.

    Now the very Tea Party that they embraced is trying to take away their Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...and isn't it ironic that it is the DEMOCRATS who are fighting to keep those benefits for them? Remember last summer's Tea Party demonstrations? Where are they now??? I believe that the grassroots support has dissipated but the news media hasn't gotten the message as yet...

    August 7, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  16. SD

    Tea party is not spending money it is Obama is spending money that he does not have it. I hear this blame on tea party I can see lots of sick people who need to check the facts. By the way it is Democratic Party who wants to spend the money they do not have it. If any body blames other for their failures, that person has the weakness. Mr. Axelrod is very wrong he needs to know that when you fail an exam you are responsible because you did not do right. So, let us look at the fact, is teat party over spending or you guys? Now you make this country bankrupt why regret, no more money to spend like crazy. The time has come to everyone needs to put the act together and cut the spending rather than blaming others.

    August 7, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. stlouisjake

    The right can spin this all they want, but come the next election, this chicken will come home to roost – right above their heads. The should prepare for the rain of crap that is about to come down on them. Good luck, repubs – you're gonna' need it!!

    August 7, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. Dan in AZ

    Sorry, Mr Graham, YOU are part of the political circus and the problem. Retire and give a chance to someone who understands that governing involves negotiation and compromise, not political claptrap. Mr. Axelrod's statements are spot-on. I am an unregistered independent and don't give a damn about either party, only this country. And this country was not served by the clowns in Washington's version of the Ringling, Barnum, and Bailey Circus who dithered about this for 11 weeks. THAT dithering and political infighting, exacerbated by the unreasonable stance of tea party members, is what caused the downgrade.

    August 7, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. Pate

    What a joke – We continue on a spending spree and when people start talking about tightening the belt and the spenders don't want to listen, it's the conservatives that get blamed.

    August 7, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Mike in SA

    Typical from the responsibility from them at all. They are tying to tell you that 79 fressmen congressmen and senators were able to do this in less than a year all the while the out fo control spending freak show has been going on for decades.


    August 7, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. AzRose

    There is plenty of blame to go around by ALL parties. We are in this mess because of too much gov't spending. For too long the Gov't spends more than we take om so we have to borrow to make ends meet. We must stop the spending and live within our means. We need a balanced budget amendment. If the spending was under control we would not be in this mess at all. Axelrod is wrong, it was the Tea Party that kept saying stop the spending and the Dems called them every name in the book.

    August 7, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. IndyJ

    Democrats and republicans....or rather politicians...Having been spending money like water since the how is the tea party's fault, now?

    August 7, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. skarphace

    The blame does not just belong with Tea Party members. The blame belongs to all polititians who signed that Norquist PAC pledge to never vote for a 'raise' in taxes under any circumstances (a 'raise' being anything from letting tax breaks expire, ending subsidies, closing loopholes, etc.).

    This pledge runs contrary to their pledge to serve the American people and put their needs first. Therefore, it is illegal and should be considered invalid. In addition, the polititians that signed the pledge should be thrown out of office and replaced.

    August 7, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  24. Dave

    Does the Obama administration know how to do anything without pointing the fickeled finger of fate toward someone saying it is their fault. I am frankly very tired of hearing it was Bushes fault 3 years after Obama took over and blew more money than all the rest of the other presidents combined on a BS bailout to organizations that caused their own problems and now I have to help pay the bill. This was not only stupid but ignorant. As the old saying goes, a Pheonix will rise from the Ashes which will be stronger and smarter. We only let the buzzards raise to pick away at the bones or the companies and our futrues again. This administration has done nothing to better the American way of life but spend, spend, spend. No country can neither tax itself or spend it self into prosparity. Our dollar is hitting all time lows, lower than at any time in history, since 1776! Why, because none of the Obama adiministration obviously knows diddly about how an economy runs or how to correct it's movement. In 1932 Gold was only $20/oz, a twenty dollar gold piece was 1 ounce. When the government took that away we started inflating money. We were on the silver standard where an ounce of silver was worth a buck until 1959. Now we are on the worthless promise of the Federal Reserve System and your dollar is only worth an IOU, the Federal Reserve Note. It doesn't even make good toilet paper! The more we print the less it is worth. OUR current Congressional members have no idea what is going on. They pass bills without reading or understanding them. They pass bills that are worthless and have no bearing on the subject on hand so that they can hide pork barrel project in them. Look folks, you elected them and now you suffer the consequences. You have the chance to clean house in November 2012 and I suggest you make a copy of your incumbents now and take them to the voting booth. Even if you elect all new members they cannot do as bad as the current ones are. The USA is broke in more ways than one!

    August 7, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. CaliforniaBC

    Sorry Lindsey, the Gang of Six's and Obama's Bipartisan Debt Commission's BALANCED recommendations would have kept our good credit ratings. The tea party's cuts would have ruined the economy. They scream about how you don't raise taxes during a recession...well guess what...? You don't make massive cuts during a RECOVERY.

    I'd like Lindsey to send the tea party a message for something they should do during their congressional break; Do the country a favor and enroll in some remedial economics classes before coming back.

    August 7, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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