President Obama is once again hitting the road, or perhaps the trail, to sell his financial prescription for the country. But a day after a leading agency put the U.S. government on notice that it was at risk of losing its sterling credit rating, the president faces a heavy lift in convincing voters that Washington is on track toward fixing its debt problem.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service sent shock waves through economic and political circles Monday when it lowered its outlook for U.S. debt from “stable” to “negative.” Though it kept U.S. credit ratings steady, the agency warned that political deadlock could compel it to downgrade Washington’s rating in just a couple years.

Anyone who has dealt with a less-than-stellar credit rating knows how that complicates their ability to obtain anything from a car loan to a mortgage. And while the White House downplays the S&P outlook, others say it should serve as a wake-up call for the country to get out of debt.

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