America hated the first "bailout," according to pollsters. Until pollsters described it without using the term "bailout," which made Americans much more supportive of it. So Barack Obama's multi-billion dollar economy-saving expenditure plans were soon referred to as "stimulus packages," which connotes happy visions of Bush sending everyone checks for a few hundred bucks. But now that isn't good enough for whiny Americans either! So please enjoy your economic recovery program, everyone! Congressional Democrats are now banned from saying "stimulus," because it's a dumb Washington term no one likes, and because, as we all know, if they don't call it that it isn't that. Perception equals reality! (That was true of our entire financial system for many years, btw.) Rahm Emanuel seems to have sent the memo out, and people are still adjusting. Nancy Pelosi almost said stimulus the other day! But then she caught herself: "We're not using the word 'stimulus,'" Nancy said at a press conference. Of course, Democrats do have a legitimate excuse for giving their economic policies a new label: their economic policies are actually different!
Yet Democrats say the program will go far beyond a simple stimulus to a comprehensive approach that mixes tax policy, road and bridge building, alternative-energy projects and technological improvements that will have far-reaching consequences. It should not be equated, they say, with a program that provides eligible taxpayers with a check to cover a quick trip to the electronics store.
By the time Obama actually takes office, of course, his plans will be referred to as "Natural Economic Enhancement." We haven't had a good, hopeful, vague name for a vast array of far-reaching policies lately, have we? A "New Deal" or a "Great Society" would really be useful right now, for historical framing purposes. This one should be called Project: Unicorn.