Economy dominates; S&P downgrades (audio)

Pawlenty in Tiffin

Four Republican presidential candidates spoke earlier this evening in Tiffin, Iowa (in the Clear Creek Amana high school cafeteria) to Republicans in the area.  Two of them in particular (Tim Pawlenty & Newt Gingrich) hammered away at President Obama’s handling of the economy. Gingrich suggested the economy’s in such horrid shape “we need to actually try to solve problems before the election.”  Gingrich also suggested the president was inept. “We have a president who combines, in a remarkable way, radicalism with incompetence,” Gingrich said.  Pawlenty said Obama would be “beaten comfortably” if the election were held today.

The economy was the top drawer issue during the daylight hours on the campaign trail.  Tonight came word that Standard & Poors has downgraded the long-term U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA.  Two candidates have issued statements.

Statement from Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann:

“Tonight’s decision by S&P to downgrade our credit rating to AA+ is a historically significant and serious event for the United States. The United States has had a AAA credit rating since 1917. That rating has endured the great depression, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the terrorist attacks on 9/11. This President has destroyed the credit rating of the United States through his failed economic policies and his inability to control government spending by raising the debt ceiling.

“We were warned by all of the credit agencies that a failure to deal with our debt would lead to a downgrade in our credit rating, but instead he submitted a budget that had a $1.5 trillion deficit and then requested a $2.4 trillion blank check. President Obama is destroying the foundations of the U.S. economy one beam at a time. I call on the President to seek the immediate resignation of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and to submit a plan with a list of cuts to balance the budget this year, turn our economy around and put Americans back to work.”

Statement from former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain:

On Tuesday, April 19, 2011, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner promised that America faced “no risk” of a credit downgrading. Less than six months later, he is proven shamefully wrong. As I have feared for months, the S&P has chosen to downgrade America’s credit rating from AAA, which we have always enjoyed, to AA+.

Perhaps this is because the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats never once demonstrated a willingness to propose its own ideas for meaningful spending cuts, something credit agencies signaled were necessary to redeem America’s financial standing in the world.

As a corporate executive, I’ve rescued companies from the brink of bankruptcy and returned them to profitability. That involved balancing budgets or even creating them in the first place, something that the Democratic leadership in Congress hasn’t done for 828 days. If I couldn’t run companies without budgets, how can the government?

I also had to make tough budgetary cuts to save companies. Leadership is about doing what’s right, even when it’s difficult. But somehow, that sort of idea was never floated among those within the Obama Administration.

Now, Americans are fearful for their retirements and for their children’s educational savings. This is a country known for dreamers and innovators, for thinkers and doers. And now, we are a nation living in fear.

This is a sad day for America. Such a rating is unfitting of the greatest and most prosperous nation the world has ever known. And such a weak leader is, as well.

Here are the candidates’ speeches from Tiffin:

  • Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, the candidate who got into the race in July, spoke first and made a joke comparing President Obama and Jimmy Carter. Audio :15 min
  • Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum spoke second — giving his traditional stump speech. Audio 21 min
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was in slot number three.: Audio 20 min
  • Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was the final speaker. Audio 19 min

(A note on the audio quality: McCotter was the only one of the four who stood near the lectern, so the audio of his speech is clearest.  The rest chose to take the microphone and roam around, therefore you may find their speeches a bit more difficult to understand.)

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.