Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty says the “political dysfunction” in Washington is the key reason the United States lost its AAA credit rating.
“Standard and Poors” issued the downgrade Friday night and Pawlenty says the nation’s debt problems have been “brewing for years and decades.”
“Both parties in the White House, both parties in congress, can take their share and should take their share of responsibility over a long period of time,” Pawlenty says. “But it’s also true that President Obama and Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid made it exponentially worse.”
According to Pawlenty, the federal government has long-term “fundamental and structural problems” that must be addressed immediately because the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating is a “dangerous” moment. Pawlenty has suggested things like “gradually” raising the retirement age for Social Security and installing so-called “means testing” which would deny some benefits to the country’s wealthiest senior citizens.
“I don’t like means testing. I think it breeds class warfare rhetoric, but amongst the crappy choices we have, this is one of the least bad.”
The past two candidates who’ve won the White House have suggested one of their aims as president would be to change the tone in Washington. Pawlenty suggests he is willing to “absorb the body blows” that are required to accomplish that goal.
“I’m not going to Washington just to change it,” Pawlenty says. “I’m going to defeat it in it’s current dysfunction.”
Pawlenty, a former two-term governor of Minnesota, saw another rating agency — Moody’s — downgrade Minnesota’s credit rating during his tenure.
“The downgrade Minnesota took was…for six months of my administration and reflected, you know, a lot of activities…before that six months,” Pawlenty says. “But after that we maintained a AAA in two of the rating agencies and a AA+ for the rest…of my term.”
Ratings from agencies like Moody’s offer investors a guide as to the state’s ability to meet its financial obligations. Standard and Poors gave Minnesota a AAA rating throughout Pawlenty’s eight-year tenure as governor. Moody’s downgraded Minnesota’s credit rating during Pawlenty’s first year in office.
(A previous version of this story left out the word “just” in paragraph seven.)