On the first day of trading after the USA’s credit rating was downgraded from AAA to AA+, President Obama addressed an American public worried about the country’s financial future. While it remains to be seen whether Obama eased minds on Main Street, Wall Street’s worries continue to run high.
Obama partially blamed the credit downgrade on the tug-of-war in Congress over raising the debt ceiling. But he offered at least some consolation saying, “Here is the good news: Our problems are imminently solvable. And we know what we have to do to solve them. With respect to debt, our problem is not confidence in our credit—the markets continue to reaffirm our credit as among the world's safest. Our challenge is the need to tackle our deficits over the long term.”
After critics on the right accused the president of not being as involved as he could have been in resolving the debt ceiling debacle, Obama made news when he revealed he plans to offer his own recommendations on how to proceed in the coming weeks. “I assure you we will stay on it until we get the job done,” he said.
The president also spoke about the 30 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan over the weekend. He said he’s spoken to both U.S. and Afghan authorities and affirms that the mission will continue. He said, “These men and women put their lives on the line for the values that bind us together as a nation. No matter what differences they might have as individuals, they serve this nation as a team.”
During today’s White House press conference, reporters wanted to know about what the president specifically plans to do to deal with the economy. White House Spokesman Jay Carney said, “There are ample ideas and a pretty clear path.” He went on to say, “We don’t have the luxury of political gridlock. We need to do what the American people sent the leaders in Washington to do.”
Two guests took at least some of the spotlight off of the president’s address. Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced waivers for states having difficulty meeting the provisions of No Child Left Behind. The move comes after Congress failed to pass education reforms before leaving for recess.
“With no clear path to a bipartisan bill in Congress, the President has directed us to move forward with an administrative process to provide flexibility within the law for states and districts that are willing to embrace reform,” Barnes said.
Duncan added that No Child Left Behind forces districts into a one-size-fits-all format for education that doesn’t work. “The president understands this and he has directed us to move ahead in providing relief,” he said.
(Photo: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)