NASHVILLE - Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Haslam today accused Washington politicians of playing an "incredibly serious game of chicken" when it comes to extending the nation's debt ceiling.
"I think if you talk to any governor, they would say we really need to solve this for the economic health of the country, No. 1," Haslam told reporters. "No. 2, [solve this] for us as states. You've seen where some of the credit rating agencies have said, 'Hey, the fact they don't have a deal puts Tennessee's credit rating in peril' - which, I mean, that speaks volumes."
Moody's Investors Service has put Tennessee and four other states on a credit watch, saying if the federal government doesn't reach agreement on the debt limit and defaults on Aug. 2, the ratings group will consider downgrading the states' triple-A ratings, the highest for states. That would lead to higher borrowing costs for the state when it issues bonds.
Moody's officials say that among Tennessee's other problems, it is highly dependent on federal spending.
Haslam said the state has low levels of debt.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.