Washington – Despite one rating agency's decision to downgrade U.S. sovereign debt, the United States "always will be a triple-A country," President Barack Obama said Monday as global financial markets swooned.
The president's statement in the White House State Dining Room was his first since Standard & Poor's downgraded U.S. sovereign debt from AAA - the highest classification - to AA+.
The two other leading rating agencies, Moody's and Fitch, continue to rate U.S. debt as AAA.
"Our problems are eminently solvable," Obama said, but added that investors are worried by "a lack of political will in Washington."
One of S&P's reasons for lowering the U.S. debt rating was precisely the antagonistic political climate in Washington that led to incessant wrangling in coming to an agreement - finally reached last week - on raising the debt ceiling.
Even as the president spoke, the New York Stock Exchange's Dow Jones Industrial Average continued its downward spiral. While before the president began his talk - more than an hour late - it was down more than 3 percent, after Obama's speech it was down by 5 percent.
"No matter what some agency may say, we have always been and always will be a triple-A country," Obama said.
The president repeated that the medium- and long-term solutions require a "balanced" approach to the problem of the budget deficit that includes both less spending and higher taxes.
In the discussions about raising the U.S. debt ceiling, Obama had demanded higher taxes on the very rich, something the Republican negotiators totally rejected.
S&P's extended on Monday its downgrading to mortgage banks Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and other lenders with a "direct reliance on the U.S. government."
On Tuesday the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee will meet to analyze possible ways of reactivating the nation's economy.
Analysts believe that the Obama administration has few choices left capable of calming the markets any time soon. Sights are now trained on a bipartisan legislative committee that will seek ways to cut back government expenditures even more.
The "Super Congress" of six Republicans and six Democrats from both chambers are part of the last-minute agreement Congress reached last week to increase the debt limit, coupled with a plan of spending cuts to trim the deficit by $2.4 trillion in 10 years.
Congressional leaders must now create that "Super Congress" before Aug.16 and the group will have until Nov. 23 to come up with its plan.