The Standard and Poor's Ratings Service sent a message to lawmakers in Washington to get the growing deficit under control or face a lower debt rating.
The country's rating is now listed as "stable." But the S&P says there is a one in three chance it will downgrade that rating to "Negative" in the next two years.
S&P analysts say they have little confidence the White House and Congress will agree on a deficit reduction plan by 2012 and doubts any plan would be in place until after 2014.
"We see the path to agreement as challenging because the gap between the parties remains wide," Standard & Poor's credit analyst Nikola G. Swann said.
Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner tried to reassure Wall Street that the White House and lawmakers will get the nation's finances under control.
But just how serious are America's money problems? CBN News Sr. Producer and Financial Editor Drew Parkhill gave more insight on this. Click play for his comments.
The news from the report sent stocks tumbling on Wall Street, Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 200 points in afternoon trading.
Assistant Treasury Secretary Mary Miller said S&P, "Underestimates the ability of America's leaders to come together to address the difficult fiscal challenges facing the nation."
"The president and Congress are working on ways to reduce budget deficits over the long term," she added.
S&P reaffirmed its investment-grade credit ratings on the U.S. long- and short-term debt itself. But it said the U.S. government is in danger of losing the top ranking if it doesn't come up with a credible plan for reducing its debt.
S&P said the U.S. has a fundamentally strong, diversified economy. Still, the agency noted that the U.S. deficit grew to 11 percent of gross domestic income in 2009. That is much higher than the 5 percent or less the country had averaged in the previous six years.
The government is on pace to run a record $1.5 trillion deficit this year, the third consecutive deficit exceeding $1 trillion.