Standard & Poor’s did not downgrade the U.S. political system. It did not downgrade the stock market. It downgraded United States Treasury bonds and bills—and did so after Congress had removed whatever tiny chance existed of even a small delay in payments. So it’s instructive that, on the next market day, investors moved massively out of stocks, and into the safety of U.S. Treasury bonds and bills. Rarely has stupidity been so quickly and massively shown up.
Some commentators read the downgrade as a rebuke to the Tea Party, but, in fact, S&P was making good on its threat to act if the deficit deal resolving that drama did not reach the arbitrary threshold of $4 trillion over ten years. It wasn’t the Tea Party’s Kool-Aid they were drinking, but that of the deficit hysterics.