Washington's deficit drama has ended with both sides rushing right up to the deadline before reaching a deal.
The battle over raising the nation's debt ceiling emphasizes why it's important to frame an issue in your own terms and from your own perspective.
The first thing we learned from the debate was the importance of perception. President Obama was seeking a "balanced" approach, a combination of cuts and new revenue (i.e. taxes). Republicans argued that cuts were the only solution for the President's excessive spending.
We also learned that there were some unusual terms that had to be defined for the public to understand the debate. Take the term “debt ceiling” itself. Not exactly a household phrase. Other terms like “default,” “downgrade” and “budget triggers” helped our eyes to glaze over.
Third, we heard predictions of what was to come if there were no deal. Would the government be able to pay its bills? President Obama at one point said he couldn’t guarantee Social Security checks would go out on time. Republicans argued there was plenty of money to pay the interest on the nation’s debt and all of basic entitlements. Both sides were trying to frame the debate, but may have stretched the truth.
In the end, all but the staunchest opponents of the agreement argued it was the best deal they could get. Crisis averted. While the negotiations are over, the framing will go on for some time.