***SATURDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE***
WASHINGTON (AP) - Top officials of Standard & Poor's are
defending their decision to downgrade the U.S. government's credit
rating following Obama administration claims that it was a hasty
decision based on faulty math.
The administration had tried to head off the downgrade announced
late Friday. It told S&P that the agency had wrong calculations
about the federal budget.
S&P officials say they came to a reasoned conclusion that the
United States will have difficulty getting its soaring deficits
under control. And they say S&P had given plenty of warnings that a
downgrade could be coming if Congress and the Obama administration
did not produce a credible deficit-cutting plan.
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's says it
has downgraded the United States' credit rating for the first time
in the history of the ratings.
The credit rating agency says that it is cutting the country's
top AAA rating by one notch to AA-plus.
The credit agency said late Friday that it is making the move because the deficit reduction plan passed by Congress on Tuesday did not go far enough to stabilize the country's debt situation.
A source familiar with the discussions said that the Obama
administration believes S&P's analysis contained "deep and