Discuss as:

Obama: 'We've always been and always will be a AAA country'

In a statement he delivered at the White House, President Obama tried to downplay the credit downgrade by arguing that S&P's bombshell announcement says more about Washington's political dysfunction than its ability to pay its debts.

In his first public remarks since credit downgrade, Obama argued, "We didn't need a rating agency to tell us that the gridlock in Washington over the last several months has not been constructive, to say the least."

The president acknowledged the U.S. has a debt problem, but said those problems are "imminently solvable." On the heels of last week's deal to raise the debt-ceiling, he repeated his calls for a “balanced long-term approach” including additional spending cuts and tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans.

And he said he's hopeful this latest economic news will spur a sense of Congress to act. "Making these reforms," he argued "doesn't require any radical steps. What it does require is common sense and compromise."

Addressing jittery investors and market, Obama urged calm. "Markets will rise and fall, but this is the United States of America. No matter what some agency may say, we've always been and always will be a AAA country," he said.

This past weekend also brought tragic news with the deaths of 30 Americans -- including 22 Navy SEALs -- killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

Obama praised their bravery and all those serving in combat. "Day after day, night after night," he said, "they carry out missions like this in the face of enemy fire and grave danger."

He vowed the U.S. will "press on and we will succeed," but he asked Americans to pause and reflect on the sacrifices of troops of their families. 

"These men and women put their lives on the line for the values that bind us together as a nation," he said.