The Washington Post

Standard and Poors punctures Michele Bachmann’s blissful fantasy

Wow, what colossally bad timing. Here’s Michele Bachmann at the debate last night, insisting that the Standard and Poors downgrade proved that she was right to oppose raising the debt ceiling:

“I think we just heard from Standard & Poor’s. When they dropped — when they dropped our credit rating, what they said is, we don’t have an ability to repay our debt. That’s what the final word was from them.

“I was proved right in my position: We should not have raised the debt ceiling. And instead, we should have cut government spending, which was not done. And then we needed to get — get our spending priorities in order.”

Unfortunately for Bachmann, Standard and Poors has now clarified that it’s actually people like her, who oppose raising the debt ceiling and aren’t mindful of the consequences of default, that were a primary reason for the downgrade:

A Standard & Poor’s director said for the first time Thursday that one reason the United States lost its triple-A credit rating was that several lawmakers expressed skepticism about the serious consequences of a credit default — a position put forth by some Republicans.

Without specifically mentioning Republicans, S&P senior director Joydeep Mukherji said the stability and effectiveness of American political institutions were undermined by the fact that “people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default,” Mukherji said.

“That a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable,” he added. “This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns.”

Let’s try to wrap our heads around this. Bachmann’s opposition to raising the debt ceiling is one of the most important planks in her presidential platform. She has touted it in two ads, presenting it as a sign of her courage. She repeated it again last night at the debate, asserting that opposing the hike is “the right thing to do,” and even cited Standard and Poors’s downgrade as proof of her superior grasp of our fiscal dilemma.

Less than 24 hours later, the news emerges that S & P has confirmed that it was precisely this opposition to raising the debt ceiling, and the cavalier attitude towards default exhibited by the likes of Bachmann, that led to our downgrade.

The question of what led S & P to downgrade our credit rating is a matter of verifiable fact. And S & P has now confirmed that one of the central rationales of her candidacy is a key reason for their downgrade. What will she say when confronted with this fact? How will she explain it away? Will anyone even ask her to try to explain it?

In a rational universe, this would be devastating to her candidacy. Of course, the world of GOP primary politics is anything but a rational universe.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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