President Obama used the final news conference of his first term to stake out his position on the upcoming debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling.
The president did what he does best, and what the person with the largest bully pulpit gets to do; he reframed the debate.
The argument, the president said, is not about authorizing the federal government to borrow more money. No, the money has already been spent by a profligate Congress, so the real issue is just about paying existing bills.
It's a smart move, especially for a president who has presided over four years of annual deficits of at least $1 trillion and watched as federal spending has risen to 70 percent of GDP - the highest in U.S. history except during WWII.
So the president, rather than actually addressing the real issue of out-of-control spending, creates a straw man argument that sounds as though it was dreamed up by an accountant at Enron.
The country can't pay its bills because it has vastly overspent and borrowed, so we're to believe the only option is to give the president the authority to borrow more money, even as we run even higher deficits, while doing nothing about the spending.
President Obama also attempted to gin up the jingoists with the phrase - which he repeated twice - "We're not a deadbeat nation."
Channeling my best Bill Clinton, that depends on what your definition of "deadbeat" is.
Someone who does not pay their bills is a deadbeat. So, it could be argued that if a showdown between the Congress and the president ended with no increase in the debt ceiling, there wouldn't be enough money to pay the bills.