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. upstate Pa

    Why is it that Reagan can raise the debt ceiling 17 or 18 times and bush 8 times and nothing from the far right? Like it is stated above, Dick Cheney said Reagan proved that deficits don't matter. The only thing that matters to these whack jobs is Obama's defeat in 2012 and they are willing to take the country down in the process.

    August 7, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. From Canada - watching in amazement

    So let me ask this question – where have the Bush tax cuts helped your economy – your big corporations – even with tax cuts are still shipping overseas!!
    And why was the debt ceiling not raised – as it has been for 70 times – without being tied to the seperate issue of reducing the deficit – by both incresed revenue and cuts in spending.
    Seems to me the ones who tied these seperate issues together are the ones to blame.

    August 7, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. usualone

    The President's nature is to be the compromiser - and that obviously doesn't work with this group in the House. He needs to be forceful in his speeches (it isn't his nature to be loud which too many people understand) when dealing with the TP type. They gobbled him up and the result was this back and forth and the wishywashy way things were done helped to the S&P rating downgrade. And why does Boehner keep saying he won 98% of what he wanted? It is obvious the TP were pulling his strings. And he is in jeopardy with his job if he doesn't tow their line.

    August 7, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Kevin

    Always someone else's fault. Were it not for the GOP and the Tea Party the President would have single handedly solved all of our economic problems, found a way to make cold fusion work, and saved all of the babies in Africa. Whatever.

    August 7, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. Positive

    President Obama proposed a very reasonable $4 Tdeficit decrease that was 3 parts spending cuts. The Republicans, driven largely by the Tea Party, got up and walked out of discussions. Also, many of them destablized the economy by declaring they wouldn't vote to avoid default no matter what.

    So, yes, this is a Tea Party/Republican downgrade and a Tea Party/Republican downturn in the economy.

    August 7, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. Not a Tea Partier

    Politicians caused our issues. Voters gave them the keys to do so. I'm not a Tea Party member but at least they say something that makes sense to me – Washington, quit wasting my money! If I looked and saw that it was being well spent I wouldn't begrudge a dime, but seeing the waste in government agencies, in political pork barrel, and in Congress itself I find myself feeling empathetic to their cause. I will back their viewpoint that we should cut taxes and spending until Washington shows me that they're not wasting my money (but I'm certainly not holding my breath).

    August 7, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. mjw

    The Republicans are using their "talking points' and they are sticking to it. Every where you turn you hear the same phrases. They said President Obama is responsible for the deficit and spending for the last decade. Make the first black president pay for all the errors of his predecessors and do not give him credit for anything. Even the "grand bargain" that Boehner walked away from, now they are saying that was an offer from the tea party. Everything they are trying to take away from the president.

    It seems these right wing nuts are so insecure and afraid of this president. It shows in all their talking points. President will win in 2012 because the right shows such hate and bitterness towards the president. They cannot hide their hate for him and the American people can sense it, it is not the politics it is the person that they despise.

    August 7, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. Antonio

    Seriously folks, this is a failure of the US Government–not any particular wing or party. Anyone who uses this sorry situation to score political points and blame others does not deserve to be in a position of leadership. We need leaders that are not afraid to accept responsibility when things are bad just as they accept credit when things go well. Only someone with such strong moral fiber can rally the country to tackle the serious problems ahead.

    August 7, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  9. Robert

    Obama doesn't want to take the blame for anything bad, only the good, which isn't much if anything. Worst administration since Carter.

    August 7, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. B. Vincent

    This is based on a non partisan view.... How is it that this country allowed a political organization to influence our future to such a terrible degree. The TEA PARTY has literallly destroyed our country and we as Americans are sitting back, either by ignorance or stupidity, or belief, and allowing it to continue... We must hold every Senator and Congressman accountable for every dollar lost during this nightmare...just like every working American... by making our congressmen and wormen accountable for their actions, they might begin to understand that we voted them not for their political posturing but to make decisions that WILL effect the lives of our children... and they need to seriousley think through their decisions.


    August 7, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. john

    Has anyone seen Obama's or democrats mystical Plan on the paper for debt ceiling to be scored by CBO. They have not produced a budget for last 2 years but they have spend more american tax payers money in 2yrs than all the administrations combined. Where was President Obama in debt ceiling talks from January to June. He was playing Golf, went on vacation, hosting parties and fundraisers. He always comes in the last minute to vote present. Stop blaming others and be a President who is accountable.

    August 7, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  12. zigan

    He is right blaming the Tea Party. Senators and representatives from the tea party did not want to comprise. If they did, a deal that would cut the deficit to meet S&P requirement would have been reached. The tea party did not have the majority it needed to make decision alone. So all it has left is compromise but because a stupid and ridiculous pact they did not want to yield. That's why it took so long to raise the debt ceiling. Just look at reality here. How many time Obama called all leaders to the White House to talk about the debt ceiling? He put everything Democrats don't like to cut on the table so that taxes can be reformed. But Republicans will not take the deal because they were scared of the Tea Party. Do big oil company really need incentives to create jobs? They are doing business. It's so funny that the government has to give them money so that they can make money. Why can't Republicans just stop holding their ground and make something happen? Boehner was like can my friends across the aisle put something on the table? Well they did, more than once. And what did he do? He walked away.Why? He is scared of the Tea Party.Comes 2012 Americans need to wake up and turn their back on these Tea Party morons. A country is made of a lot of different classes. In making decisions, any politician should take into account the interest of each and everyone of these classes. Bottom line yeah, the Tea Party and Republicans are to responsible of the U.S credit downgrade. Obama and democrats all the way in 2012

    August 7, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. Tony

    The Republican Party has received the Tea Party downgrade. The Party of Lincoln is no more. It has been replaced by the Hemlock Party.

    August 7, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. Bill

    The liberals are to blame.

    August 7, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  15. Joshua Ludd

    Many want to complain about how much money Obama has spent in his time in office. Of course those that do have to completely ignore the facts that we were already in a record debt thanks to the Republicans, were in two wars that Bush never included in the actual budget numbers, and we had a tanking economy that was about to lose its banking and auto industry thanks to Republican mismanagement and deregulation.. and for those who think we should have let those two industries simply go under.. what exactly is it you think CAN destroy our economy, then? I know you don't LIKE the bailouts. Neither do it. But they were a necessary evil.

    August 7, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. B

    The Republicans and primarily the Tea Party are responsible for this downgrade and should be investigated and dealt with !

    Boehner, McConnell,and Cantor should all be impeached for this travesty of misusing Congressional procedure against the Constitution.
    These people are an outrage, attempting to Hold Congress Hostage to get their way!

    August 7, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. Tam

    He's right.

    August 7, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. Mark

    S&P have come out and said the recent political brinkmanship is the main reason for the downgrade. If they had raised the debt ceiling like they'd done every other time and saved the fighting for the budget it wouldn't have happened. Anyone can see it's going to need a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. We can't continue to fight wars, cut taxes, create new programs on the current stream of revenue without borrowing the difference. We have one of the lowest federal tax rates in the world. The bill is due. The party is over. Time to pony up.

    August 7, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. oregonian101

    Mr. Graham, the President & Democrats offered a very balanced approach that also had $4 trillion in debt reduction. This is a "Tea" movement downgrade. Whiney cry babies wanted everything their way.

    August 7, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. Larry L

    The Tea Party is the American Taliban. The take hostages, don't mind total destruction, and replace wisdom and logic with radical ideology. They caused America to slide into 2nd world status and I'll never vote Republican again. Obama 2012!

    August 7, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. oregonian101

    Which was worked out with Rep Boehner, but, the Tea movement forced Boehner's hands.

    August 7, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. steve a NB, Tex.

    Vote out ALL republicans in 2012

    August 7, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Because the extortionary tactics of the "tea party" led the entire country to the cliff of default, many Americans including myself felt like crime victims once the deal to raise the debt limit was made. I guess those who loan the U.S. money felt threatened too. No wonder Congress has an approval rating of just 14%.

    August 7, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  24. jb1963

    The Tea Party is to blame. They are rookies and totaly incompentent. They would cut thier nose to spite their face. I hope all of you middle america, middle income Americans enjoy the loss of your small savings because they are comming after it.

    August 7, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. JillBo

    The reason the US was downgraded is because we don't have spending under control. If the senate would have passed the republican house cut, cap, and balance plan we would still be AAA. Obama and the democrats own the downgrade.

    August 7, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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