Political Animal


May 15, 2011 11:30 AM Mitch McConnell hearts Standard & Poor’s

By Steve Benen

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared on CNN this morning and addressed the debt crisis that his party seems anxious to create. “Rather than thinking of this as a crisis, I think of this as an opportunity to come together,” he said.

And by “come together,” McConnell meant, “think of this as an opportunity for Democrats to pay Republicans a ransom so the GOP won’t create a recession on purpose.”

But that’s not the interesting part. This was the line that stood out.

To be more specific, McConnell said that any deal that convinces credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s to boost their prognostication on the government finances would win his support. The agency gave the government’s debt a “negative outlook” earlier this month, citing concerns over the federal deficit and debt.

“Standard & Poor’s would be a good indicator,” he said. “If they are impressed with what we’ve done, then that will mean the markets think the Americans are going to get their act together.”

Maybe now would be a good time to note that the rating agencies McConnell wants to impress aren’t exactly credible.

This item from Time’s Joe Klein continues to ring true.

The news that Standard & Poor’s has decided to issue a warning that the US government’s AAA bond rating might be in some jeopardy if a deficit-reduction agreement isn’t reached should elicit several responses from sophisticated readers. My own threshold response is: Hey, weren’t you the same guys who gave AAA ratings to the repackaged subprime mortgage-backed securities that, in truth, were utter dreck? And didn’t that help cause the 2008 economic collapse? And didn’t subsequent accounts reveal that you were in bed with the banks whose products you were supposed to be rating? I mean, you guys are still in business? Amazing.

Not as amazing as McConnell’s willingness to hold the economy hostage until Standard & Poor’s is impressed.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • TR on May 15, 2011 11:36 AM:

    How is this surprising? Mitch McConnell is dumber than a sack of rocks.

  • kevo on May 15, 2011 11:44 AM:

    The danger of utters of a bull's posterior extractions is they believe their shit over what impartial observers know to be contrary, and reflective of reality! Then said BSers such as McConnell don't even realize they've betrayed their "positions" and it may be on tape!

    What will give a positive signal to Standard and Poor's Senator McConnell?

    How about the certainty of a clean vote ASAP (within the week) and then a very sober and serious debate on next year's budget and the deficit issues related to our economic future!

    Hey McConnell - quite screwing around on my dime! -Kevo

  • foosion on May 15, 2011 11:53 AM:

    then that will mean the markets think the Americans are going to get their act together

    Why not look at the markets to see what the markets think? Treasury interest rates are at a very low level and the only nervousness I hear from market participants concerns the Republicans playing games with the debt ceiling?

  • zeitgeist on May 15, 2011 12:35 PM:

    i seem to recall a poll this week that international investors think there has to be a "balanced" approach to the debt -- i.e. raising taxes.

    its a rather safe bet that even if no one at S&P was in the polled group, they would agree with that majority.

    perhaps someone should inquire, and then tell McConnell we're glad he is supportive of tax increases.


  • sparky on May 15, 2011 3:15 PM:

    If we wish to follow McConnel's logic all the way to the end, it seems that we should get Congress completely out of the debt ceiling management and let S & P decide the proper course of action. Boehmer and McConnel should make a movie together; simply call it Dumb and Dumber II. And there's room for lots more sequals.

  • Redshift on May 15, 2011 8:06 PM:

    S&P is like the CBO -- when it releases a statement that can be an excuse for Republicans to demand something they want, it's an unimpeachable independent source, and when it says something they don't like or refuses to be equally favorable to mainstream Democratic economic policies and insanely radical Republican economic policies, it's "partisan" and "biased."

    In other words, it's the usual conservative BS "logic": decide the conclusion you want and cherry-pick the "evidence" to pretend there's a reason for it.

  • FlipYrWhig on May 15, 2011 8:25 PM:

    Um, doesn't S&P's assessment also reflect concern about Republican obstinacy? Republicans are part of "the government" too. Alas.

  • FRP on May 16, 2011 6:40 AM:

    ScienceDaily: Your source for the latest research news and science breakthroughs --
    Quantum Theory Demonstrated: Observation Affects Reality

    ScienceDaily (Feb. 27, 1998) — In a study reported in the February 26 issue of Nature (Vol. 391, pp. 871-874), researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have now conducted a highly controlled experiment demonstrating how a beam of electrons is affected by the act of being observed. The experiment revealed that the greater the amount of "watching," the greater the observer's influence on what actually takes place.

  • ghostryder on May 16, 2011 9:25 AM:

    we all know that GOPers know nothing about economics....they hear "S&P" in the background clutter when they go by CNBC while channel surfing for the cartoons and figure that saying it means they're smart....or something