POLITICS

Debt Crisis: Obama speaks on first U.S. debt downgrade in history

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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama on Monday essentially dismissed the first-ever downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, reassuring investors and the public that the nation's leaders need only show more "common sense and compromise" to tame a staggering accumulation of debt.

Seeking to demonstrate command in a volatile economic climate, Obama said he hoped the decision by Standard & Poor's would at least give Congress a renewed sense of urgency to tackle debt problems. He said that must be done mainly by taking on the politically difficult issues of reforming taxes and entitlement programs in the coming months.

In his first public comments on the credit downgrade, which S&P announced Friday, Obama said Washington had the power to fix its own political dysfunction.

"Markets will rise and fall," he said. "But this is the United States of America. No matter what some agency may say, we've always been and always will be a triple-A country."

Obama also says the United States will press ahead and succeed in Afghanistan despite this past weekend's deadly shoot down of a helicopter carrying U.S. and Afghan troops.

He told reporters on Monday that the incident is a reminder of the risks America's men and women in uniform take every day. The president said he knows the troops in Afghanistan will continue the "hard work" of preventing the country from becoming a terrorist haven and preparing Afghans to take over their own security.

The Saturday crash in eastern Afghanistan killed 30 U.S. troops and was the deadliest incident for American forces in the decade-long war. The dead included 22 elite Navy SEAL personnel, Air Force troops and an Army air crew, along with eight Afghan soldiers

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