Credit rating agency Egan Jones downgraded the United States Thursday on concern over the sustainability of public debt. Egan Jones is one of the most important ratings firms in the world; they lowered our credit level from AA+ to AA. The firm reduced America from AAA to AA+ in July 2011, just before Standard & Poor’s did the same.
Egan Jones warned. “Without some structural changes soon, restoring credit quality will become increasingly difficult . . . without some structural changes soon, restoring credit quality will become increasingly difficult.” They added that there was a 1.2% probability of U.S default in the next 12 months. The company cited the fact that the US’s total debt, which now equals its total GDP, is rising and soon will eclipse the national GDP; the company sees the debt rising to 112% of the GDP by 2014.
The debt grew 23.6% the first two years of Obama’s presidency. When the debt is more than 100% of the GDP, treasury notes fall, which is a problem because they are used for transactions between financial institutions. This, in turn, could raise rates on mortgages and other loans, which would discourage growth in the economy, as well as state and local governments feeling the pinch, which could eliminate more services.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has offered a debt reduction plan which would reduce the current six federal income tax rates to just 2 — 10% and 25%. His plan would also reduce the federal corporate income tax rate from 35% to 25%, the same rate as the international average. Because of the additional revenue accrued from economic growth as a result of the tax reductions, federal revenues could double over the next 10 years; the added revenue would be more than the entire GDP of almost every other country in the world.
Meanwhile, President Obama continues to vilify Ryan’s ideas, saying they are, “a Trojan horse, disguised as deficit-reduction plans . . . thinly veiled social Darwinism.” And White House projections show the federal debt’s ratio to gross domestic product growing to a record 124 percent in 2050 under Obama’s plan.
Obama’s malfeaseance or Ryan’s responsibility? If the country is to survive, it’s not hard to choose.