Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a favorite among tea party Republicans, insisted Monday during an appearance on the conservative Fox News Channel that a refusal to increase government revenues through taxes had “nothing” to do with Standard & Poor’s dropping America’s credit rating last week.
Unfortunately for West, that’s patently false, according to S&P’s own press release announcing the ratings drop.
Speaking of congressional Democrats and the president, West said that “they have to look at themselves and they have to understand that they are the ones that are totally to blame. It has nothing to do with increasing revenues by tax hikes. It has everything to do with cutting spending.”
S&P, however, disagreed with West’s assessment of what they actually said. In a press release, the credit ratings agency said that while deeper cuts are indeed needed, the downgrade came as a result of a political calculation: they no longer believe the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans will expire in 2012 as planned.
“We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act,” S&P explained.
S&P’s math on calculating the downgrade was initially in error, according to the U.S. Treasury, forcing them to add a political element to their explanation and ultimately giving both liberals and conservatives something to point at in order to claim they’re right, when in truth they both share blame for failing to compromise.
But the fact of the matter remains: S&P plainly stated that revenue increases and Republican opposition were significant contributing factors to the downgrade, making West’s statement patently untrue.
President Barack Obama has insisted that the Bush-era tax cuts for America’s wealthiest citizens and corporations must expire as Republicans originally planned, but he extended them in 2010, instead vowing to make ending them a centerpiece of his campaign for reelection.
Approximately half of the current U.S. deficit would be eliminated if America’s top-tier tax rates were allowed to revert to 1999 levels.
This video is from Fox News, broadcast Monday, August 8, 2011, as snipped by ThinkProgress.