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Don’t call it a stimulus

at 06:30 AM ET, 09/09/2011


President Obama delivers a speech to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday. Watching are Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner. (AP Photo/Kevin Lamarque, POOL)
There was a word missing from President Obama’s jobs speech Thursday night: “stimulus.”

But Republicans were only too happy to inject that word into the debate into the after-action analysis of Obama’s speech.

“President Obama’s call for nearly a half-trillion dollars in more government stimulus when America has more than $14 trillion in debt is guided by his mistaken belief that we can spend our way to prosperity,” said Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

“Tonight Virginia families heard a political speech from President Obama calling for more of the same big spending proposals and job-crushing tax hikes,” said former senator George Allen (R-Va.).

Added Republican National Committe Chairman Reince Priebus: “Despite one failed stimulus, the President wants even more deficit spending.”

The Republicans’ strategy is clear here: Turn this into a battle over Stimulus 2.0.

And if they can do that, they have a good shot of winning the debate.

A June poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal showed that only 34 percent of people think Obama’s 2009 stimulus program worked. Obama has endured plenty of criticism over the projections that were made at the time and over how the funds were allocated.

That $800 billion package, which passed Congress in February 2009, hasn’t gone over well from a political perspective. So asking for more than half that amount in stimulus funds isn’t going to be easy.

Which is why Obama didn’t call it stimulus.

In fact, Obama appeared to be making the case that the package didn’t constitute a stimulus.

“Everything in this bill will be paid for,” he said. “Everything.”

But generally, all Americans will see is the $447 billion pricetag, and with dozens of Republicans and news outlets already calling it a “stimulus,” it’s going to be hard to shake that tag.

Things like this in politics are remarkably simple. If you attach a word that people don’t like to a proposal, they will be much more hesistant to embrace the proposal.

In the days ahead, it could very well be a battle between Republicans and Democrats over whether this program is actually a stimulus.

And that may not be a winnning battle for Democrats.

Social Security update: Mitt Romney’s campaign continues to attack Rick Perry on Social Security, but Perry is hitting back.

Appearing on Sean Hannity’s radio show, Romney said an anti-Social Security GOP nominee would lose in 2012.

“If we nominate someone who the Democrats could correctly characterize as being opposed to Social Security, we would be obliterated,” he said.

Perry’s camp, meanwhile, began to fight back, noting that in his book , Romney himself compared the raiding of the Social Security fund to a criminal enterprise.

In the book, “No Apology,” Romney writes that “the American people have been effectively defrauded out of their Social Security.” It’s important to note that Romney’s comments don’t appear to refer to the program as constituted, but to Congress’s frequent raiding of the fund.

“His evolving and inconsistent position on this important issue is curious, but unfortunately not unusual,” said Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan.

Democratic super PAC gets into NY-09: House Majority PAC, an independent expenditure political action committee, is getting into the increasingly crowded ad war in next week’s special election for the House seat vacated by ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D).

The group has made a six-figure ad buy on cable and broadcast in the New York media market, running through the Sept. 13 election. The ad features a Paul Revere-esque character saying Turner is not from the real Tea Party: “Mr. Turner would reduce the taxes of the wealthiest among thee, while making thy elders pay more for medicine.”

For months, both Democrat David Weprin and Republican Bob Turner suffered from anemic fundraising and thus few ads went up. Now the race is surprisingly tight and both sides are ramping up.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just dropped half a million on ads, and the National Republican Congressional Committee is looking to make a buy.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump recorded a robocall for Turner. Seriously.

Crossroads adds Barbour, doubles goal to $240 million: The Republican-aligned third party group American Crossroads has added outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour as a volunteer fundraiser and increased its fundraising goal to double what it originally said.

The group said earlier this year that it planned to raise $120 million, but head Steven Law told iWatch News that he now thinks it can double that amount.

Barbour should help. He is known for his fundraising prowess and, before opting not to run for president this year, served as chairman of both the Republican National Committee and Republican Governor Association. He joins Karl Rove in leading the group’s fundraising efforts.

Fixbits:

The Senate on Thursday quietly passed a $500 billion increase in the debt limit.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) says her grandparents immigrated to the United States illegally.

John F. Kennedy was afraid of what would happen if Lyndon Johnson became president.

That former George W. Bush adviser who pleaded guilty to stealing merchandise from Target has been stripped of his law license for a year.

Embattled former congressman David Wu (D-Ore.) was present Thursday night.

Must-reads:

Obama announces $447 billion plan to boost economy” — Zachary A. Goldfarb, Washington Post

Seeking the shaky common ground on Capitol Hill” — David A. Fahrenthold and Felicia Sonmez, Washington Post

Odd couple of Floridians in Congress join in fight redistricting amendment” — Mary Ellen Klas, St. Petersburg Times

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Fact Checker: Jobs speech is deja vu all over again

House Republicans stay silent for most of speech

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