Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's has issued a wakeup call on the size of U.S. government debt and the ability of Congress and the president to effectively deal with the problem.
While S&P left its outlook credit rating unchanged at AAA, it moved its outlook from 'stable' to 'negative'.
NPR's Zoe Chance reports that the ratings agency is concerned that the political will to reach an effective deal to trim the size of the debt and deficit may be lacking:
The ratings agency says that the solutions proposed by the Democrats and Republicans in Congress to cut the ballooning US deficit are very different. Therefore, S&P is concerned that an agreement on how to handle big ticket items like Medicare won't be implemented in the next two years.
Planet Money's Jacob Goldstein has a more thorough post on the subject.
Not surprisingly, Wall Street doesn't like it one bit. By mid-day the Dow was down more than 200 points - or about 1.7 percent - and the S&P 500 was down a similar percentage.