The likelihood of a shutdown of the federal government is rising as lawmakers fight over funding for 2024, drawing attention to a more long-term problem.
There is growing concern among investors that the demand for Treasury bonds may decline, increasing the cost of government borrowing.
If interest rates were to rise, less money would be available to fund public works projects like national parks and highways.
This year, Fitch lowered the United States' credit rating from AAA to AA+ because of the government's "repeated debt-limit political standoffs and last-minute resolutions."
A prospective government shutdown, Moody's said on Monday, would hurt U.S. credit and "underscore the weakness of U.S. institutional and governance strength."
However, America has company. Its standing is also not the worst of the developed nations.
Tax revenues are insufficient to cover the cost of the thousands of government agencies and programs across the country.
As annual budget deficits accumulate, so does the national debt. At $33 trillion as of this month, it is 124 times larger than it was 70 years ago.