Calling Bill Clinton.
President Obama often refers to former President Clinton as his "Secretary of Explaining Stuff" for his ability to
break down complex economic issues, such as Obamacare, for average voters.
Perhaps Mr. Obama could have used Mr. Clinton's help Friday when he gave a somewhat long and halting explanation of his confrontation with House Republicans over raising the nation's borrowing limit.
Speaking at a Ford auto plant in Missouri, the president compared the debt-ceiling debate to a consumer loan on a new Ford F150 truck.
"This is important," Mr. Obama said. "Raising the debt ceiling is not the same as approving more spending, any more than making your monthly payments adds to the total cost of your truck."
Plowing ahead, Mr. Obama said, "I — you don't say, well, I'm not going — I'm not going to pay my — my — my bill, my note for my truck because I'm going to save money. No, you're not saving money. You already bought the truck, right? You have to pay the bills. You — you are not — you're not saving money."
Then the president seemed to give an argument supporting Republicans' call for lower spending and less borrowing.
"You — you might have decided at the front end not to buy the truck," Mr. Obama said. "But once you bought the truck, you can't say you're saving money just by not paying the bills. Does that make sense?"
The audience of unionized auto workers cheered and applauded.
"So raising the debt ceiling — it doesn't cost a dime," Mr. Obama continued. "It does not add a penny to our deficits."
A few moments later, as if realizing that his explanation of the debt ceiling was getting lost in translation, the president tried his truck analogy again.
"So — so I — I just want to break this down one more time," he said. "I go into a Ford dealership, drive off with a new F-150. Unless I paid cash, I've still got to pay for it each month. I can't just say, you know, I'm not going to make my car payment this month. That's what Congress is threatening to do, just saying, 'I'm not going to pay the bills.'"
He warned, "There are consequences to that. The bill collector starts calling you, right? Your credit goes south, and you got all kinds of problems. Same is true for a country. So if we don't raise the debt ceiling, we're deadbeats."
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