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Obama Administration Tried to Keep S&P from Issuing Negative Outlook on U.S. Debt

Rasmussen reports consumer confidence 'falls sharply' in wake of S&P announcement.

11:06 AM, Apr 20, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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The Washington Post reports:

The Obama administration privately urged Standard & Poor’s in recent weeks not to lower its outlook on the United States — a suggestion the ratings agency ignored Monday, two people familiar with the matter said.

Treasury Department officials had been discussing with S&P whether the ratings agency should change its outlook on the United States to “negative” from “stable,” an indication that the country could lose its crucial AAA rating in coming years over its soaring debt levels.

Treasury officials told S&P analysts that they were underestimating the ability of politicians in Washington to fashion a compromise to curb deficits, a Treasury official said. They argued a change in ratings was not needed at this time because the debt was manageable and the administration had a viable plan in the works, the official said.

But S&P analysts told Treasury officials on Friday that they were unmoved — and released a report that expressed skepticism that the political parties could come together on how to bring spending in line with revenue.

So the president gives partisan barnburner of a speech attacking the Republican debt plan, while the Treasury is hard at work trying to change the S&P's mind. The S&P remains unmoved, precisely because they fear compromise between the two parties is unlikely to occur -- a problem greatly exacerbated by the president's speech.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen reports that consumer confidence is falling

The Rasmussen Consumer Index, which measures the economic confidence of consumers on a daily basis, has fallen eight points since Monday morning to 74.4. This Wednesday, consumer confidence is down six points from a week ago, down two points from a month ago, and down eleven points from three months ago. It is just a single point above the lowest level of 2011.

The Rasmussen Investor Index fell six points today to a seven month low.  At 81.1, the Investor index down nine points since the S&P announcement, down eight points from a week ago and down thirteen points from the beginning of the year. Investor confidence in the economy is now at the lowest level since last September 18.

That's not surprising -- the S&P's announcement might even be overshadowed in the public's mind by concern over gas prices and inflation at the moment. Though the S&P's sounding the alarm over debt certainly didn't help.

What's fascinating is the left's collective freakout over the S&P. Given a $14 trillion debt and a divided government, concern that the problem won't be addressed soon enough seems understandable. But to hear the left tell it, the S&P is "Running Interference for the Right to Help Crush Social Security and Medicare." Yet, any rational person will tell you it's the debt itself that threatens to crush Social Security and Medicare.

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