NEW YORK (
TheStreet) -- Mitt Romney's campaign is lagging the news by a day as it took a dig at President Barack Obama on Wednesday for a
(MCO - Get Report) warning that emerged Tuesday.
The ratings agency warned that it may downgrade the U.S. government's triple-A debt rating by 2014 if Congress does not reach a deal for a new federal budget.
"For nearly four years, President Obama has presided over reckless spending and runaway debt. And now it's clear that all Americans will pay the price, with another potential credit downgrade," Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman, wrote in a statement on Wednesday.
The news spread through U.S. markets on Tuesday as gold futures -- a safe-haven investment --
ticked higher on downgrade concerns, while equity markets mostly
shrugged off the warning.
The ratings agency made clear that a downgrade would occur only if lawmakers failed to avert the so-called fiscal cliff -- an array of decisions that include the fate of expiring Bush tax cuts, the payroll tax, the Alternative Minimum Tax and critical spending cuts, among other things.
Almost any sort of budget deal, even one that would implement massive cuts in spending, likely would avoid a debt downgrade.
In the event of a Romney victory, the Republican presidential nominee would be faced with the same downgrade threat if his new Congress didn't reach a deal.
Since a deal must be reached during the lame duck session that transpires after Election Day until the end of 2012, chatter on Capitol Hill ahead of the August recess included a proposal to push back the critical budget decision by six months. Such a move would avoid the potential stalemate of a lame duck Congress and leave the responsibility to the new legislative period and the next presidential term.
In other words, failure to avoid the fiscal cliff would be a mark on whoever wins the November election -- Romney or Obama.
-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.