Today President Obama “explained” the debt ceiling as follows:

If Congress refuses to raise what’s called the debt ceiling, America would not be able to meet all of our financial obligations for the first time in 225 years. And because it’s called raising the debt ceiling, I think a lot of Americans think, it’s raising our debt. It is not raising our debt. This does not add a dime to our debt. It simply says, you paid for what Congress has already authorized America to purchase, whether that’s the greatest military in the world or veterans benefits or Social Security, whatever it is that Congress has already authorized, what this does is make sure we can pay those bills.

Now, the last time that the Tea Party Republicans flirted with the idea of default two years ago, markets plunged and business and consumer confidence plunged. And America’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time and a decision to actually go through with it, to actually permit default, according to many CEOs would be, insane, catastrophic catastrophic, chaos, these are more polite words.

Warren Buffett likened to a nuclear bomb, a weapon too horrible to use. It would undermine the world’s confidence in America as the bedrock of the global economy and might permanently increase our borrowing costs. Which, of course, ironically would mean it would be more expensive for us to service what debt we do have and add to our deficits and debt, not decrease them. There’s nothing fiscally responsible about that.

Now, preventing this should be simple. As I said, raising the debt ceiling is a lousy name why members in both parties don’t like to vote on it. It does not allow for a single dime of increased spending. All it does is allow the treasury department to pay for for what congress has already spent.

But on March 20, 2006, then Senator Barack Obama described voting to raise the debt ceiling as a “failure of leadership.”

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

Senator Obama went on to vote against raising the debt ceiling.

Now President Obama wants to raise the debt ceiling, and describes raising it as not even worth fighting about.

There is no way to reconcile these two positions as consistent, despite the fact that they came from the same man. Someone in the White House press corps should have asked President Obama why Senator Obama was wrong.