A leading credit agency said on Friday it might restore the perfect AAA rating the United States lost nearly three years ago amid political bickering over the debt ceiling -- if Congress gets its act together.
Standard & Poor held out the possibility of raising Washington's rating if it saw greater bipartisan efforts to cooperate on fiscal policy and a decrease in government debt. The United States lost the AAA rating in August 2011.
The agency may boost the long-term rating to AAA if it sees "additional evidence of bipartisan efforts that signal a lower degree of political brinkmanship around fiscal policy decisions, coupled with a general government debt burden decline more pronounced than we currently expect."
In the meantime, S&P affirmed the current AA+/A-1+ ratings for U.S. sovereign credit and called the outlook "stable," citing a strong economy, policy flexibility and the nation's status as "the issuer of the world's leading reserve currency."
An S&P stable outlook signifies that the possibility for a rating change in the next two years is less than 33 percent, the agency's release said.
The affirmation comes after Friday's nonfarm payrolls report showed that U.S. employment had returned to a pre-recession high.