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. Vic

    I agree that the Tea Party is partly to blame along with the obstructionist Republicans.
    The President and the Speaker were ready to compromise, but he got shot down by the hard right.

    August 7, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Bob

    The same nations and credit ratings have been saying we borrow too much and spend too much for well over a decade. A Chinese credit rating just knocked us down a second peg to 'A'. The first time we dropped was years ago. Now we look at ourselves and realize we borrow 40% of everything we spend and we haven't paid money to reduce the debt in forever. How much longer and how much worse were we going to let the situation get? Are we going to wait until the Medicare and Social Security payments have to completely stop? We just added trillions to the problem well into the future with a national healthcare program!

    August 7, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. Emilio Dumphuque

    When you start talking about NOT paying your bills, credit agencies are going to act!!
    The Tea Party was doing just that! This IS on their shoulders! Remember this on election day!

    August 7, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. Ancient Texan

    The Tea Party members of the legislature seemed to be the only segment that was intent on saving America and restoring it to the original greatness. Everyone else was palying "gotcha" political games to be reelected. Axelrod might as well get used to the Tea Party, there's millions more of them in mainstream America, though they may not call themselves the Tea Party..

    August 7, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. BD70

    Since this never before happened in all the debt ceiling votes...yes I would place blame squarely on the tea party republicans.

    August 7, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  6. Robert Richardson

    The Democrats always blame everybody else for their failed policies. They want to spend and spend and spend and spend. And tax and tax and tax and tax. They are about redistribution of wealth, not about financial responsibility.

    Everyone knows the entitlement spending the democrats push so hard is the reason for the debt. Politicians buy votes and some voters are quite willing to sell theirs for a government check.

    “When the people find they can vote themselves money; that will herald the end of the republic.” Benjamin Franklin

    It is time to return to Constitutional principles and get the government out of the unconstitutional welfare program business. Of course that will spell the end of the democrat party.

    John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson:
    "All the perplexities, confusion and distresses in America arise not from defects in the constitution or confederation, nor from want of honor or virtue, as much from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation."

    James Madison:

    "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

    August 7, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. RaddyRabbit

    This is true. Also, true is that Chaney and Bush ruined us with lower taxes and Reagan's "don't worry about being in debt" attitude. Get the right-wing nut cases out of D.C. and elect those who do not need adult supervision.

    August 7, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. CAW in MD

    Lindsay Graham is badly mistaken. It wasn't a particular number that we were trying to hit, and S&P said so. S&P downgraded us because we demonstrated that the political system is broken, thus they have no confidence that the measures that must be taken will be enacted. The Tea Baggers bear disproportionate responsibility for bringing us to that point because Saint Grover says that no taxes shall be raised, even when every economist on the face of the planet understands that its going to take cuts AND revenue increases in order to get us where we need to go. Obama should come out tomorrow and say "I will veto any legislation dealing with the deficit that does not include both revenue increases and entitlement cuts, with a maximum proportion of cuts to revenue increases of 3:1". McConnell and Boehner want clarity? There's clarity.

    August 7, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. Randy, San Francisco

    Axlerod is absolutely correct about the Tea Party downgrade. Shame on Conservatives and the GOP for allowing Tea Party hobbits take their party and ultimately the nation hostage. The Tea Party hobbits are no better than bomb throwing anarchists.

    August 7, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. DJ

    It just really amazes me that Congress doesn't see that you cannot cut taxes the way they did under President Bush and then spend like drunk sailors, the way they did under President Bush, and have this horrendous deficit. Are they just completely stupid or do they just want us to think they are? If that's it, they are a smashing success!

    August 7, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  11. DJ

    Should be "and not have this horrendous deficit." Sorry.

    August 7, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  12. Builder101

    The biggest culprit, by far, has been an erosion of tax revenue triggered largely by two recessions and multiple rounds of tax cuts. Together, the economy and the tax bills enacted under former president George W. Bush, and to a lesser extent by President Obama, wiped out $6.3 trillion in anticipated revenue. That’s nearly half of the $12.7 trillion swing from projected surpluses to real debt. Federal tax collections now stand at their lowest level as a percentage of the economy in 60 years.

    Big-ticket spending initiated by the Bush administration accounts for 12 percent of the shift. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have added $1.3 trillion in new borrowing. A new prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients contributed another $272 billion. The Troubled Assets Relief Program bank bailout, which infuriated voters and led to the defeat of several legislators in 2010, added just $16 billion — and TARP may eventually cost nothing as financial institutions repay the Treasury.

    August 7, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. dru

    Axelrod is as uninformed and misguided as anyone can be! He is a divider.

    August 7, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. nick marino

    Here comes the end of the American Era. China is the next superpower. You Americans cant solve a simple debt problem. God Bless China

    August 7, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  15. John the Historian

    Where were the conservatives and Tea Party people when Bush destroyed the budget surplus he took over from Clinton. Not once did Republicans ask for a blanced budget amendment during the Bush years and they controlled Congress for 6 years of those years. Never forget Cheney said budget deficits do not matter.

    August 7, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. derekur

    boehner proclaim his gop confederates party won the debt deal by 98% !! so yea, the only american who are not blaming the tea idiot is the tea drinker. dont expect these morron to own up as america burn. yea, the fall of america is here to stay. fail leadership in britian produces fail leadership in america.

    August 7, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. Poughkeepsie Pirate

    Well now let's see: Who was it that started making demands and holding the debt ceiling hostage? Was it the president? No! It was the T-E-A P-A-R-T-Y! Ergo, this is a "Tea Party downgrade".

    August 7, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  18. KO

    Telling it like it is. The lunatic Tea Party is driving the bus over the cliff–it's up to the adults to (hopefully) get us back to some political sanity. The Tea Party and their GOP lackeys would have us do all the wrong things to get our economy back on track. Now is not the time to slash spending and continue to give millionaires a break.

    August 7, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. wonderabout

    What we really need is for people in power to realize that the decisions they make have real consequences – and lately the lunatic-right-wing-fringe is making all the wrong decisions for the majority of us! We don't care about the win or lose of politics – we do care whether we will have jobs that will feed, house, cloth, and take care of the health of our families! Get with it or get out!

    August 7, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  20. T Dick Schmidt

    Oh for God sake.........Washington and the baffoons have set this in motion a long time ago. If he means the Tea party exposed the insanity and exposed the joke we call Washington DC then they did cause that. Its like the parent telling the child that you need to stop charging ont he credit card and the child gets mad at the parent. FIX IT , I don't want to hear any political opinion of who caused the down grade.

    August 7, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  21. Rush L

    You've heard of throwing out the baby with the bath water? Well, the Tea Party would drown the baby just to show you there was too much water.

    August 7, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  22. FedUp

    Always someone else's fault. The man can't take responsibility for anything. He is Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there. Stand up and take responsibility and act like a man for once.

    August 7, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. Bill Duke

    Typical. These guys can never admit that they were the ones at fault. Always blame the other guy.

    August 7, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  24. hzzvnh

    What Axelrod's comments tell me, as well as comments from every other political commentator that I've heard so far, is that they don't get it. They are part of the problem. When Washington quits the blame game, stops focusing on one-upmanship and tearing others down because they believe different things, then we can have compromise that really reflects the will of the American people. This problem was caused by a lot of things; Democrats insisting on sacred cows that can't be touched; politicians feeding at the public trough and shoveling money to their constituents so that they get voted in again without regard for the overall impact; government agencies wasting our money with million dollar studies into things that a very narrow population cares about; and Republicans insisting on their majority to force an issue – not unlike the Democrats forcing through the health care legislation – to address something key to their constituents. All that contributed, but the real cause is that no one can afford to step into the middle of the room and really try to build consensus because both sides will tear them down. The fact remains – the problem we have was caused by politicians – period. And the sadder fact is that we continue to vote them in.

    August 7, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  25. Terry Gloege

    Sounds like S&P is saying the "Grand Bargain" Boehner and Obama were attempting to pull off would have kept them from the downgrade. That effort was rejected by whom again???

    August 7, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
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