WASHINGTON, May 26 - As the US risked a downgrade, former Standard & Poor's officials stood by the seminal 2011 calls to downgrade the country as the right decision. The downgrade came days after Washington narrowly evaded default, but S&P went ahead and downgraded the US's pristine "AAA" rating to "Aplus", citing growing political polarization and insufficient steps to correct the country's financial outlook. . "We thought the political polarization in the country would continue, and secondly, we were also concerned about the rising trend of debt," said David Beers, former head of S&P's sovereign credit rating. "Both of our expectations, if anything... were exceeded. I have no doubt that this was the right decision." An unprecedented downgrade came under fierce criticism from the then Obama administration and some congressional leaders who challenged S&P's methods and analysis. Four months before the downgrade, S&P had placed the US government on a negative outlook. According to John Chambers, who chairs S&P's country ratings committee, S&P notified the US government of its downgrade decision about 24 hours before an official announcement. "It was probably the most important decision I've made in my professional life," Chambers said. "When you downgrade a government, they always get very upset. ... With the passage of time, we think we were justified." S&P continues to downgrade its US rating with a stable outlook. An S&P spokesperson declined to comment further. NEW 10 YEARS, SAME NUMBERS As the US enters a debt ceiling crisis again, credit institutions are reevaluating US creditworthiness. They weigh in on repeated political fights over the country's borrowing capacity and a weaker financial picture weighing on the country's credibility. Wednesday's threat from Fitch Ratings to downgrade the US has raised concerns that the country's borrowing costs could rise and its position as the backbone of the global financial system could weaken. The move also drew attention to Fitch, which is smaller than other major rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service. "Rating agencies are private for-profit companies," said Steven Schwarcz, a professor at Duke Law School. "Their core stock and business is reputation. ... Downgrading doesn't necessarily mean downgrade, but it gets Fitch in the news and it can improve its reputation." A Fitch spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the motivation behind the decision. While waiting for policymakers to reach an agreement, the agency said there were "high" risks given the dwindling time. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the US government's funding could run out on June 1. The move leaves Moody's as the only major credit rating agency that has not taken official steps to reassess the nation's creditworthiness. Moody's still holds the country's "AAA" rating with a stable outlook - the highest possible rating - an agency spokesperson said on Thursday. But Moody's tells that a change of tone among Washington negotiators could prompt such a warning, leaving the door open for a similar move to Fitch. "I suspect none of them want to look stupid or overconfident if things go wrong," said John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School. So a credit monitoring rating is a nice compromise. Moody's has yet to comment on why it hasn't taken action. Experts said that assessing the United States is a challenge for credit rating professionals because the concerns are primarily about political ability to reach political consensus and raise the legally-mandated borrowing cap, rather than actually raising funds to pay off borrowers when allowed. "It's more symbolic than the probability of losing because if there is a probability of a significant loss it should be much, much lower," said Edward Altman, professor emeritus of finance at New York University's Stern School of Business. Pete Schroeder reported; Fiction by Megan Davies and Leslie Adler Thomson Trust Principles. Gotopnews.com