WASHINGTON - (AP) - President Barack Obama says the U.S. always isand always has been a triple-A country, despite its rating agencydebt downgrade.

He also said the U.S. did not need a rating agency to tell itthat its political system was having trouble functioning.

Speaking at the White House on the Standard & Poor's downgrade,Obama renewed a plea to Congress to take action in September tohelp create jobs and cushion Americans from a still weak economy.

Obama said financial markets around the world "still believeour credit is triple-A. I and the world's investor's agree."U.S. markets fall sharply, Dow down more than 450 pointsU.S. downgrade raises anxiety, if not interest ratesS&P downgrades U.S. credit rating from AAAStocks end mixed after day of wild swings