White House Minimizes S&P Decision On US Debt

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is minimizing the significance of a credit rating agency's decision to downgrade its outlook on U.S. government debt.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says Standard & Poor's action Monday is a welcome call for a bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit. He adds that the White House believes the political
process will outperform the agency's expectations because the president and Congress recognize the problem, have proposed cutting $4 trillion and will soon begin negotiations toward a deal.

S&P's Ratings Service lowered the long-term outlook on the nation's debt to "Negative" from "Stable" and said it has little confidence that Washington will produce a deficit-reduction
plan before the 2012 elections.

Stocks plunged after the agency's announcement.
Carney highlighted S&P's positive comments about the U.S. economy.