Shutdown semantics: ‘That’s a lousy name,’ Obama says of debt ceiling

President Obama (Photo: EPA/Shawn Thew) (Shawn Thew/EPA)

Folks in Washington can’t agree on much these days — and beyond substance, it seems they can’t even come to terms on the terms of the debate.

In a speech today, President Obama today called “raising the debt ceiling” a “lousy name.” Seems he thinks the label makes it sound like the U.S. is taking on more debt, instead of just making it possible to pay down its existing debt.

But he didn’t offer an alternative.

And the president’s vocabulary critique is not the first quibble over shutdown semantics. Recall that the federal government stopped using the terms “essential” and “non-essential” when discussing which workers would toil through a shutdown, since they felt insulting to federal employees. “Excepted” and “non-excepted” are the kinder, gentler monikers.

And Fox News even recently  eschewed the very word “shutdown” in favor of the less-scary-sounding “slimdown.”

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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Al Kamen · October 3, 2013