The PJ Tatler

Keeping up appearances: White House sought to muzzle S&P bond warning

So much of this White House reminds me of the British comedy, Keeping Up Appearances. In that show, the main character Hyacinth did everything from pronouncing their last named “Bouquet” (it was spelled “Bucket”) to holding “candlelight teas suppers” in her tiny kitchen in her crackerbox house to convince the world that she wasn’t the mere wife of a man in civil service, but the lady of a house of importance to British society. Her entire life revolved around building up and maintaining a self-delusion that all of Mrs. Bucket’s neighbors and acquaintances could see right through.

So it is with the Obama bunch. When they caught wind of S&P’s intent to change its outlook on the US from neutral to negative, Team Obama swung into action — not to make any moves that might truly alleviate the debt crisis, though, like cutting spending or proposing anything else meaningful. They just wanted to keep up appearances.

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. …

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.

Any doubts by credit rating agencies about government debt has the potential to increase borrowing costs for the Treasury.