The inability of the Congress to understand that it is not just about the ability to spend less money, but to raise more revenue that underlines the strength of a country's credit rating is why America now faces an undeniable crisis.
Unless the Americans can get their house in order, the market will force ever more stringent restrictions on the freedom of action of the Federal government, the State governments and indeed all US based borrowers.
Although this downgrade has been predicted for some time, it is only now that market capitulation accepts the horrible truth: the US has neither the capacity nor the political will to pay its bills in full.
Doubtless it will be President Obama that pays the political price, but ultimately this crisis is the fault of the Republicans: the wastrel President, George W. Bush and the Know Nothing Republican House of Representatives.
Without real leadership on the American right, as opposed to the ignorant posturing of the "Tea Party", the United States is going to find that this symbolic moment becomes an all too real downgrade of American power and prestige.
The economic tectonic plates are shifting, and although I have a certain faith in the ability of the Americans to recover, the fact is that the crisis is not going to be wished away and the idea that the recovery comes without painful choices, both on spending, but also on tax increases is utterly false.
If the US can increase revenues and cut spending, it will recover its AAA rating, but unless it can, it will be downgraded again within two years.
The free lunch promised by American politicians is over. The reality will be difficult, painful and very expensive for the American people. yet who, among the identikit American politicians has the vision to offer the voters "blood, sweat and tears"?