The move late Friday by Standard & Poor's to downgrade its debt rating on the United States from triple-A for the fist time ever is more a statement on America's political leadership quagmire than the state of the economy.
The economy is barely moving, but the problem starts in Washington, as noted by the ratings agency.
S&P's U.S. ratings downgrade by one notch to AA+ is an indictment of both leadership of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and Republican leaders who profess to know better but can't seem to do anything about it.
In downgrading the U.S. debt rating, S&P said the outlook on America's financial condition is negative, while threatening another downgrade in two years. S&P's pinpointing of the problem in its downgrade is "America's governance and policymaking (is) becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable that what we previously believed."
Democrats, of course, are pointing fingers at Republicans for the political quagmire, and they are right in doing so.
Republican leaders, including new members swept into office from the Tea Party movement in the contentious mid-term elections, say that America has a debt problem, and that something must be done -- but they have not been effective in doing anything about it.
They have yet to present a plan that makes enough sense, or works. To date, it's just been talk, and much of it has been cheap.
Republicans, of course, are pointing fingers at Democrats, including President Barack Obama, and they are right in doing so.
The primary responsibility of the President of the United States is leadership -- building consensus and bridges across differences to unite just enough Congressional leaders so that the needs of the nation are addressed.
Since the mid-term elections, Obama has tried a bit harder to build political bridges, to the ire of liberals who say he's selling out. In the process, he's also aggravating conservatives who suggest he's talking out of two sides of his mouth. But whether the president has become more conservative or remains too liberal is not the issue.
The issue is that the President late into his first time in office has yet to build any reliable power base. He struggled early in office when Democrats had control, and he's struggling lately since Republicans gained control of the House. Obama has yet to establish a leadership personality with the strength, focus and clout to rallying enough politicians from both sides to benefit the America people -- and calm national markets and others looking closely in like S&P.
The ratings agency downgrade is a stunning signal to America that something is wrong in Washington and needs to be changed. We knew it was bad, but now we have further proof that is become poisonous to the future of this nation.
The U.S. is the world's largest economy, and supposedly the stalwart of global political stability, yet one of the most respected global ratings agencies -- and an American one at that -- has downgraded the nation's debt rating, citing, of all things, an unstable political system.
A U.S. Treasury spokesman reportedly pointed out flaws in S&P's financial assessment used in arriving at the downgrade, but it was made anyway. Whether or not there's merit to flawed methodology is not really the issue, however. In downgrading the U.S. debt rating, S&P spoke what most Americans have felt for some time.
The nation's policymaking has becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable. We have a leadership problem in Washington, and it's coming from both sides and then some. Until we get leaders in Washington who can truly lead this nation, more debt downgrades are likely in the future.