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Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been scheduled for a while to host today's prayer event, "The Response." In a video released earlier this week he spoke of "a historic crisis" threatening our nation which demands "a historic response."

Yesterday's late-night credit rating downgrade by S&P certainly ups the ante on the historic crisis front. How will it play out in Perry's event? Watch below.

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As threatened, the ratings agency Standard & Poors has downgraded the country's AAA bond rating, despite acknowledging, according to multiple reports, that their initial calculations included a $2 trillion error projecting U.S.'s debt-to-GDP ratio over time.

You can read the entire explanation below the fold. But the key is that the use of the debt limit as a legislative bargaining chip, combined with gridlock in Congress, led S&P to publicly conclude that the country will have a hard time restoring gravity to its debt trajectory.

However, while they parcel blame across Congress -- implying Democrats are rigidly opposed to cutting entitlement spending -- they hint that Republican intransigence to raising tax revenues is more troubling.

From the agency's press release:

"We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process," reads a statement from S&P. "We also believe that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration agreed to this week falls short of the amount that we believe is necessary to stabilize the general government debt burden by the middle of the decade."

S&P continues:

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. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year's wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently. Republicans and Democrats have only been able to agree to relatively modest savings on discretionary spending while delegating to the Select Committee decisions on more comprehensive measures. It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options. In addition, the plan envisions only minor policy changes on Medicare and little change in other entitlements, the containment of which we and most other independent observers regard as key to long-term fiscal sustainability.


Full press release below.

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A mysterious corporate donor to a Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney has already drawn the full attention of campaign finance watchdogs, who suspect the barely-existent firm, W Spann LLC, was created to conceal the origins of a giant $1 million contribution. Now Romney's political opponents are taking notice as well.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie just picked up an unlikely ally for a prominent Republican politician these days: the Council on American-Islamic Relation, better known as CAIR.

The group's Garden State branch sent a shout-out to Christie after a video made the rounds showing the governor defending one of his nominees for the state bench against allegation that his Muslim faith meant he'd bring sharia into the legal system.

"Governor Christie's praise highlights the commitment of American Muslims to building a better society," CAIR-NJ Executive Director James Yee said in a statement. "We hope the governor's comments will help stem the rising tide of Islamophobia in our society and help unify our nation."

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Michele Bachmann has joined the ranks of Republicans attacking President Obama for celebrating his birthday on Thursday, which coincided with the 512-point mega-drop in the Dow Jones stock index. And as Bachmann said, she would not "celebrate" the news as she accused Obama of doing -- she would have canceled the barbecue.

"The birthday present he got was huge drop of 512 points in the market and not only that, what was the president's response? He threw a barbecue last night at the White House to celebrate," Bachmann told an Iowa crowd, the Des Moines Register reports.

She added: "One thing I will guarantee you, President Bachmann will be canceling barbecues if we see the market go down and if we see the jobs report going down."

But wait a second: Wouldn't that sort of abrupt reduction in consumer spending result in layoffs of catering employees? That's not the kind of bold move that the ratings agencies are looking for.

An ABC News report suggests U.S. officials are prepping for the credit rating agency S&P to downgrade the country's AAA bond rating to either AA or AA+. This would be a slight reduction stemming from the Congressional circus over the debt limit fight.

According to the initial report, S&P sees the GOP's intransigence on taxes as a reason to suspect the country will not be likely to reduce deficits in the years ahead, and Republicans are already trying to get out from under the blame.

"Dear Mr. Obama, while you blame the GOP for the downgrade, your party controlled all of Washington for two years & extended the Bush cuts," tweeted Red State founder Erick Erickson.

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AllCarsElectric_TPM.jpg
By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

In the past year, we've put the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid through an extensive set of test-drives, resulting in our first drive report, winter test-drive, financial analysis and even a family vacation.

With so many miles behind the wheel, our editorial team has already shared our five things we love about Toyota's first plug-in hybrid.

But now it's time to share the things we're not so fond of - its limited EV range: the way the charger heats up the cabin; the lack of charge timer; lost luggage space; and lackluster performance.

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