WASHINGTON - Standard & Poor's is defending the practice of municipal bond and other issuers paying for their own ratings, arguing in a white paper released ahead of tomorrow's Securities and Exchange Commission roundtable on rating agencies that "issuer-pays" is the most effective business model for fostering high-quality ratings and a transparent ratings process.

Meanwhile, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer chastised the SEC in a recent letter for not including at the roundtable muni bond issuers who could discuss the "double standard" of rating muni bonds on a more rigorous scale than corporate debt, even though their default rate is much lower. He urged the SEC to discuss this issue at some point in the future.

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