A third official says that S&P made a "serious mistake" in its analysis, "based on flawed math and assumptions," so the Obama administration is pushing back. But even though "S&P has acknowledged its numbers are wrong, it's unclear what they're going to do.," the official said.
S&P refused to comment.
So the White House is saying that Standard & Poor's got the math wrong, in their debt and credit calculations. That's... interesting. Then again, given how badly the ratings agencies all have performed, in recent years, it wouldn't exactly be all that difficult to believe.
The public nature of the fight means that S&P is now on the ropes itself: I don't imagine they would be too eager to admit "flawed math and assumptions" as reason for changing their minds, right? And yet...
5:26 PM PT: S&P follows through, according to Reuters, downgrading U.S. rating to AA+. Remaining question: how much anyone will care.