Obama: The United States 'Will Always Be A Triple-A Country'
President Obama tried to reassure the world that despite what Standard and Poor's might say, the United States "will always be a triple-A country." The president opened by quoting Warren Buffett, one of the world's richest men, who said if credit agencies had a quadruple-A rating the U.S. deserved it.
During a speech from the White House, the president did acknowledge that the United States is facing some hurdles.
But, he said, "our problems are eminently solvable. Our challenge is the need" to take on the deficit over the long term. He said many expressed skepticism that Washington could come together to reign in the long-term debt of the country, but, he said, he was confident that this country, which has succeeded in many critical moments, would make something positive out of this crisis.
As the president spoke, the markets were still experiencing an aggressive sell-off. Minutes after his speech was over, the Dow dropped 500 points. But, as president noted in his speech, the market was still treating U.S. Treasury bonds as a safe haven, underlining that the world still has tremendous confidence in the United States to pay off its debts. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield was at its lowest level since October.
"My hope is that Friday's news will give us a renewed sense of urgency," he said. "What sets us apart is that we have always had the will to act.... We're going to need to summon that spirit today."
We live blogged the speech as it happened. You will find those updates below.
Our Original Post:
Update at 2:03 p.m. ET. On The Troops:
Obama said that the helicopter crash on Saturday, which killed 30 Americans "is a stark reminder of the risk... men and women take on behalf of their country."
He said our job is to build an America that reflects their courage and commitment.
He said the U.S. will press ahead and "succeed" despite the shoot down of the chopper.
Update at 1:58 p.m. ET. Always A Triple A Country:
"There will always be economic factors that we cannnot control," said Obama. but how we react is entirely up to us.
"This is the United States of America... No matter what a ratings agency says, we will always be a AAA country.
"What sets us apart is that we have always had the will to act.... We're going to need to summon that spirit today.
Update at 1:55 p.m. ET. New Sense Of Urgency:
The president says the problem the U.S. is facing is not one of ideas, it's a problem of Washington, and a "refusal to put what's best for our country ahead" of politics.
"My hope is that Friday's news will give us a renewed sense of urgency," he said.
Update at 1:55 p.m. ET. Two Things:
President Obama says the country needs to do two things to rein in long term deficits: Tax reform and modest changes to entitlement programs.
Update at 1:53 p.m. ET. Markets Still Trust USA:
President Obama says the markets are saying the United States is still a AAA country. But he says that the country didn't need a ratings agency to say that the United States needed to rein in its debt.
"Our problems are eminently solvable," he said. "Our challenge is the need" to take on the deficit over the long term.
Update at 1:50 p.m. ET. Stay Tuned:
President Obama is running late, but should speak shortly.
Update at 1 p.m. ET. Remarks Pushed Back:
President Obama is now expected to speak at 1:30 p.m ET. He will speak with the backdrop of a sharp sell off happening in the markets. The Dow is down close to 300 points (2.66 percent) and the S&P 500 is down 42.86 points (3.57 percent).
These will be the president's first public comments since Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States' credit rating, even though his administration has already expressed its displeasure with the S&P. Earlier today, Obama's Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said S&P "has shown really terrible judgment and they've handled themselves very poorly."
Our Original Post:
The White House announced that President Obama will deliver a speech today at 1 p.m. ET.
The AP reports that Obama will likely address the first downgrade of the country's credit rating in history. And the president is also expected to talk about the 30 U.S. troops killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Saturday.
You can listen to the president live on NPR.org and CSpan will stream video of it. We will live blog it here, too.
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