Know what else Barack Obama inherited from George W. Bush? An AAA credit rating. That quip is making the rounds this morning on the ‘net with a picture of Bush. Yes, Bush spent like a drunken sailor, but his successor spends like an entire drunken navy. 

We are in bad trouble. I expect Alexander Hamilton, who once held Timothy Geitner’s job, is turning in his grave.  Hamilton put the nation on a firm footing in spite of the debt created by the Revolution. But now our reputation (not to mention our pocket book itself) is ruined. Here is the relevant passage from S&P:

The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective,  and less predictable than what we previously believed.

Just remember: the brinksmanship was on both sides of the aisle, and it was GOP Senator Mitch McConnell and Republican Speaker John Boehner who finally found a way out of it.

Predictably the Obama administration has responded by attacking the reputation of Standard & Poor, the credit rating agency. If it can be proven, as Treasury officials are trying to at this very moment (unless, like President Obama, they have left town this weekend for bit of rest), that a mistake was made, it is removely possible that S&P could make an adjustment. But let’s face it: We all know that our nation’s finances are in a shameful state.

Nile Gardner, Washington correspondent of the U.K. Telegraph, isn’t prepared to buy an administration blame game:

The decision by credit agency Standard and Poor’s to downgrade America’s AAA credit rating for the first time in 70 years is a massive blow to the credibility of the Obama administration, and a damning indictment of its handling of the economy. No doubt the White House will pathetically try to blame the Bush Administration, Republicans in Congress, and of course its favourite target, the Tea Party, for the move by S&P. But without a shadow of a doubt, responsibility for the country’s financial mess and staggering levels of debt lie with the current US president and his administration. They have been in charge of running the economy for over 30 months, during which time the United States has witnessed an unprecedented increase in government spending and borrowing.

The downgrade is going to add fuel to the nation’s already heated debate about our financial future. The Democrats will claim that we didn’t raise taxes enough to keep our rating and the GOP will claim that we didn’t cut spending enough. Both are true-the rating agencies don’t care how we get the money.

But I, as a member of the slim majority in this country that pays federal income taxes, do care. The Democrats will no doubt be claiming that it will be wrong to solve our financial problems “on the backs” of the poor. 

But what do Democrats mean by that nifty “on the backs of” stuff? It means that the people in question have become financially dependent on government, often for more than one generation, and the GOP is cruelly trying to cut down on the funds made available for dependency. They are not asking anything more radical than that dependent people take a larger role in supporting themselves.

This is the debate-though Republicans are afraid to make their case, always fearful of being considered mean. Maybe things are so rotten now that some will dare to speak the truth.