Why the “Obamaquester” Label Won’t Last

In the blame game with the President over impending cuts, Republicans are trying to push the label “Obamaquester." The word isn't likely to last—and doesn't help Washington's reputation either.

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Speaker of the House John Boehner answers reporters' questions Feb. 13 at Republican Party Headquarters in Washington.

They’re called stunt words: sometimes witty, often fleeting terms concocted for some particular, premeditated use. This week’s hot political stunt word is Obamaquester, a Republican fusion meant to assign blame for the automatic spending cuts set to take effect on March 1. But Obamaquester is not a neologism likely to last—or even to follow in the footsteps of a term such as Obamacare, a stunt word currently ingrained in our lexicon.

Linguist Allan Metcalf devised a clever five-part test in his book Predicting New Words for whether such neologisms will succeed. It goes by the acronym FUDGE.

F is for “frequency of use.”

House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans were calling the upcoming deadline “the president’s sequester” before school started last year. In recent weeks, they have been promoting the term “Obamaquester” on their lecterns and in social media. Yet according to Twitter index Topsy, that term has only been used about 600 times in the past week, compared to more than 18,000 for sequester (and roughly 625,000 for Justin Bieber).

U is for “unobtrusiveness.”

Successful words, Metcalf’s edict says, don’t call attention to themselves. The relatively catchy Obamacare, for instance, had its way paved by Hillarycare, which was a tongue’s wag from their parent, healthcare. Sequester is gangly on its own, and Obamaquester has all the grace of a malfunctioning robot. In fact, Obamaquester’s most salient feature is arguably how obtrusive it is.

D is for “diversity.”

The word needs to be used by various people in sundry situations. While Obama, and therefore Democrats and a wide swath of voters, eventually embraced Obamacare, the President has little reason to take credit for the unpopular sequester. Some conservatives, such as Rep. Justin Amash and Sen. John McCain, have rejected language that pins the sequester entirely on Obama, given how many Republicans helped vote that measure into law. Even if everyone in Washington took up the buzzword, it’s doubtful that the cumbersome, super-specific Obamaquester would make it outside the Beltway.

G is for “generation.”

Lasting nouns, for example, often take on metaphorical meanings or generate verbs, like friending or gerrymandering. Of course, that’s not often the case with stunt words. No one’s talking about how “Obamacare-ish” the President’s agenda is, and one hopes we’ll never hear historical parallels that involve things being “Obamaquestered.”

E is for “endurance.”

Whatever the word represents, Metcalf explains, has to be an enduring concept. Everyone is still talking Obamacare, for instance, because healthcare is a dominating everyman issue, and Americans continue to watch the 2010 reforms take effect. The sequester, on the other hand, is an insider concept, devised by lawmakers as a self-imposed scare tactic that was supposed to push them toward budget resolution—and failed. Whether the sequester battle lasts long enough for people to remember this word longer than fifteen minutes is yet to be determined.

So the odds don’t look great for Obamaquester, even if these are the term’s early days.* And that’s probably best for Washington at large. Republicans, of course, aren’t the only ones playing the blame game: the President’s team has been busy painting the GOP as stubbornly out-of-touch. But the term epitomizes what most Americans would view as the disheartening behavior of politicians: the image of powerful elected officials putting their heads together to see what they could possibly do about dangerous across-the-board cuts … and coming up with an awkward hashtag.

*Metcalf assigns a value of 0, 1 or 2 for each of the five factors, 2 being best. (You can find scoring examples starting on page 149.) If the total ranks seven or higher, then word is likely to make it; five or six is a maybe; below that is fairly fey. I’d assign Obamaquester the following: Frequency: 1; Unobtrusiveness: 0, Diversity: 1, Generation: 0, Endurance: likely 0. Please feel free to assign your own values in the comment sections below. 

71 comments
aztecian
aztecian

because it is based on racism!

SaoirseChurchwood
SaoirseChurchwood

Think as we experience obamaquester sacrifice and chaos,the term will solidify with usage akin to the way  nor'easter spells extreme weather. The obamaquester = abject failure by a president to lead,govern or navigate the USA during economic crisis. Yes, obamaquester is descriptive of President Obama.

charleskaye
charleskaye

Oh ye of little information - Do you libs know how to use the internet for anything more than posting regurgitated pages from the dem playbook and reading liberal media stories. I posted a challenge to a couple people below - Cite ANY single example of a country that spent/borrowed their way to prosperity. What I get in return was typical - no answers, no research, just challenges to me to show countries that cut their way to prosperity... So here's the list I was able to come up with in 10 minutes of searching...


Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, and " 26 episodes in nine developed counties where reducing debt through spending cuts provided a large boost to economic growth in the first three years after their fiscal consolidation began."

 Read it and weep libs. Let the sequestration begin. Or will Obamaquestration end up being something he takes CREDIT for once it works to boost the economy. THAT would be very ironic.

Tero
Tero

Some free advice for right-wing nut-bags; test out your new catchphrases on people who are not firmly ensconced in your little bubble of unreality. Just ask someone on the street; "do you think Obamaquester is clever?" - no? ok let's try another approach.

It is that simple, you morons...

MrObvious
MrObvious

People might have an attention span of a gnat, but they're not stupid. And many do know where all the bills originate. But it's apt that GOP spends more time figuring out cute words to throw out there instead of doing what they're suppose to do. It's for nothing that their approval rating is sub 10. There are venereal diseases that are more popular then our current scrotch rot of a congress.

Sue_N
Sue_N

And once again we see that a) the GOP doesn't understand the very culture of social media and b) they'd rather fix blame than fix the problem.

This, just like every other stunt they've pulled, is going to come back and bite them in the ass. Eventually they're going to face a stark choice: govern or die. I know where I'm putting my money.

charleskaye
charleskaye

I'm guessing it's not that popular because there's only a few people actually babbling about the blame - mostly politicians and the far left/far right voters.


I personally don't give a rat's rear about blaming anyone. Frankly, the sequester isn't about blame, it's about credit. FINALLY, our gov forced itself to cut spending. That cut amounts to a whopping 0.5% drop in total US GDP... It won't even be noticed. Let the sequester begin.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

#throw-around-a-phrase-to-see-if-it-sticks

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

I'm guessing the hashtag* [#] before the word is supposed to make it hip.

*the pound key to us old folks.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Republicals trying to pin a mutually-agreed-upon measure on the prez would be really funny if it weren't so gosh darn serious.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

They tried "Obamaloney" last year and that didn't work either. Give it up, GOTP. You're just not that creative.

fitty_three
fitty_three

Well, Teh Stoopid are up to their old new tricks again.  How 2011...

DRH
DRH

@Leftcoastrocky ... and 100% of the President proposed it.   0% of the President met with the Republicans before it went into effect.

Arimathean
Arimathean

@SaoirseChurchwood Then why did Boehner vote for the sequester in the Budget Control Act of 2011?  Boehner and his House passed the law -- Obama just signed it.

grape_crush
grape_crush

> I posted a challenge to a couple people below...

So? It's not as if you would actually consider their responses, as you seem to have already made up your mind.

> Cite ANY single example of a country that spent/borrowed their way to prosperity.

Iceland. They did more than just borrow billions from the IMF, but it's an example.

Now kindly walk yourself back to The National Review where you got your "26 episodes" quote from and post there. I'm sure the Texas Republican Representative who wrote that opinion column will appreciate having his own fanboy.


 

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@charleskaye Actually "The US during WWII" is a rather stunning example of borrowing into prosperity. 


http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/usgs_line.php?title=Various%20Items&units=p&size=m&year=1900_2017&sname=US&bar=0&stack=1&col=c&legend=Remaining%20Spending-total_Federal%20Deficit-total&source=i_i_a_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_a_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_a_i_i_i_i_a_i_i_i_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_i_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_i_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_i_a_i_a_a_a_a_a_a_a_e_g_g_g_g_g_g&spending0=8.02_7.8_7.24_7.03_7.35_6.89_6.92_6.92_7.87_7.75_8.13_8.42_8.09_8.19_9.36_9.25_7.9_7.67_10.24_12.51_13.49_15.21_13.34_11.93_12.21_11.91_11.79_12.72_12.43_11.73_14.03_15.74_18.41_19.11_16.29_16.05_15.24_15.89_19.11_18.34_17.12_15.49_16.11_18.63_27.67_28.92_26.81_24.97_24.8_24.95_23.52_24.68_27.94_27.5_28.78_26.33_27.68_28.36_28.83_27.18_29.22_29.6_27.72_27.94_27.61_26.76_26.98_28.76_27.7_30.41_30.73_29.45_29.47_28.66_29.82_30.37_29.96_30.27_29.44_29.89_31.07_31.79_32.32_30.43_29.72_30.45_30.75_31.93_31.69_31.96_32.2_32.73_32.46_32.48_32.51_33.32_33.32_33.5_34.03_33.98_34.93_34.58_33.26_31.92_31.38_32.31_33.26_33.94_33.97_32.7_32.04_31.82_31.43_32.93_33.78_34.07_34.45_34.97&spending1=-0.20_-0.27_-0.34_-0.24_-0.06_0.01_-0.12_-0.30_0.02_0.09_-0.10_-0.12_0.01_0.02_0.20_0.56_0.31_1.82_11.86_16.80_-0.67_-0.91_-0.68_-0.66_-0.73_-0.47_-0.67_-0.98_-0.68_-0.46_-0.96_0.17_2.78_3.27_3.11_4.12_4.76_2.84_1.42_2.32_3.02_3.73_12.04_28.05_22.35_24.07_9.06_-1.32_-4.33_-1.48_0.43_-2.30_-0.06_1.52_0.49_0.37_-1.21_-1.15_0.01_1.59_-0.48_0.65_1.22_0.77_0.89_0.20_0.47_1.04_2.77_-0.33_0.27_2.04_1.89_1.08_0.41_3.25_4.04_2.64_2.58_1.59_2.65_2.53_3.93_5.88_4.72_5.03_4.96_3.16_3.04_2.78_3.81_4.49_4.58_3.83_2.87_2.21_1.37_0.26_-0.79_-1.34_-2.37_-1.25_1.48_3.39_3.48_2.52_1.86_1.15_3.19_10.13_8.92_8.69_8.51_5.52_3.89_3.35_3.37_3.01

bobell
bobell

@charleskaye If you quote something, please give us a link so we can check it out.  Your "26 episodes" may not be my "26 episodes."

roknsteve
roknsteve

@Sue_N Same as all the jobs they helped create.  Oh, wait!

Sue_N
Sue_N

@nflfoghorn I still have to explain hashtag and other things to my hubby. Bless his heart, for the longest time he thought he actually had to call Twitter. He still hasn't lived that one down.

grape_crush
grape_crush

> You're just not that creative.

That's exactly it. A creative act coming from a rigid mind is a happy accident. Same goes for humor.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@Arimathean And said he got "98 percent of what I wanted"? Good times, good times.

DRH
DRH

@Arimathean @SaoirseChurchwood Um.... Obama "just" signed the plan that he "just" proposed?  Wow..... it's like he had no involvement at all!  (eyeroll)

 Isn't it odd that the only way you can  defend Obama is  to  portray him  as a passive bystander?

DRH
DRH

@Hollywooddeed Low Information Behaviour #1 : "Call the other guy a 'low information commenter', while giving no indication that you have any knowledge at all."

Let's face it,
@SaoirseChurchwood said nothing that warrants your foolish reply.

charleskaye
charleskaye

Iceland? ICELAND? OMG. Do you mean the country that defaulted on massive loans. "British and Dutch savers in Icelandic banks lost all their money (collectively worth €4bn) and had to be repaid in full by London and The Hague respectively."

What else did they do, tax increases and the "slashed spending". Did you hear that? SLASHED SPENDING!!!!! 

Other than defaulting on their loans, they basically adopted Austerity to fix their economy. Would you like to try again? Maybe with a country that didn't default on an amount equal to 45% of their entire nation's GDP.

Is that your idea of a good example? If so, let's just have our gov default on $7T of debt, then move on....

charleskaye
charleskaye

@grape_crush Attempt to "discredit the source" - page 34 out of the dem playbook... Nice try Scooter.

charleskaye
charleskaye

@PaulDirks@charleskaye 

Maybe you should look at what happened after the war... "After World War II spending was cut by 67% in just three years,(from 1945 to 1948, and Keynesians at the time were convinced, based on their bogus magic multiplier, that the private sector economy would unavoidably suffer from such a huge cutback; instead, real GDP grew by 13% in three year." 

Read the rest of the article Scooter... http://www.forbes.com/sites/richardsalsman/2012/06/26/fiscal-austerity-and-economic-prosperity-pt-iii-why-government-spending-retards-growth/

charleskaye
charleskaye

@53_3 Hey Einstein, how about you cite the list of countries that have borrowed their way to prosperity and created Utopia. Isn't that included in your dem playbook, or couldn't the DNC find any examples?

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@charleskaye @PaulDirksAfter World War II spending was cut by 67% in just three years... 

But the government debt incurred remained and the 'investment in infrastucture' that took place remained in place. Manufacturers were flush with cash and hiring followed. 



SaoirseChurchwood
SaoirseChurchwood

Did you someone forget the post WW2 USA loan (loansharking?) repayment profits! The Marshall Plan recipients aka allies such as Great Britain didn't finish paying US fed govt back until late 1970s and the hefty WW2 reparation payments were  collected by US fed govt from former enemy states with Germany finally finishing its last payment in 1980s.

charleskaye
charleskaye

@bobell @charleskaye Krugman? Come on. You can't throw that name out there and think anyone will take you seriously. Did you read what he suggested Japan do and what happened to them as a result? He is a FAR LEFT liberal... The only thing he believes is that gov's should spend, spend, spend. Too bad anyone that's followed his advice had horrible economic outcomes.

bobell
bobell

@charleskaye @bobell I'm sorry, but I can't refute something that long and detailed without an expenditure of effort far in excess of what I'm willing to devote to the cause.  I would suggest that among the errors in the article are the unquestioning equating of bubbles with booms and the ignoring of the economic consequences of reaching the zero lower bound.  I haven't seen any comment by Krugman on this particular article, and I'm insufficiently expert to try to predict what he might say.  But I have a feeling there are a lot of false premises and unsupported assumptions in there.

But since I haven't actually challenged the specifics of the article, I acknowledge that this comment is not going to convert any of the Austrian faithful. So don't let me keep you from continuing to believe exactly what you believe.

bobell
bobell

@charleskaye @bobell I googled it in quotes. The only thing that came up was this very Swampland thread.  Oh, well.

DRH
DRH

@bobell "prosperity" is the same as "utopia"?

charleskaye
charleskaye

@missliner Think about the flow of money and where things are consumed and produced. The government does not "produce" anything. they are a consumer. When it attempts to tax taxpayer money, that would otherwise go directly into the economy and pay for products and services, it takes a chunk out of that money and produces nothing for it. When the gov spends less and taxes less, the rest of the economy has a larger amount of funding to pass from one person to another. Everyone makes out better. Ironically, the small minded, economic illiterates so common within the dem party, refuse to admit that when taxes have gone down, gov revenue has increased and our economy has grown. In contrast, When taxes have increased, it doesn't allow for as many transactions to occur in the private sector (transactions are opportunities for taxation), and overall, revenues drop and the economy suffers.

The biggest problem I see is that (as evidenced by my challenge above) the left has little to cite as successful examples.I haven't investigated Iceland, but my guess is their economy isn't even close to the size of the US, which makes a big difference. All I hear are baseless ramblings of how dumb I am... which is funny. I bet a lot of those people saying that barely got through high school...

missliner
missliner

@charleskaye @MrObvious @53_3 Okay, I can't believe I'm even being drawn into this silliness, but since no-one else pointed it out yet - 

It has long been discussed what the best level of government spending is (as well as it's partner, the best level of taxation).  It has been shown that there is such a thing as too much, and of course too little, spending.  There are situations where cutting spending helps (I think we can agree that Sweden was spending, or taxing, way too much in the example above, thus improved it's economy by spending less) and situations where increasing spending helps (I won't even go there, dems probably would name the same examples I would, and repubs would disagree with them no matter how strong the case).  The question is whether we are in this situation due to the government spending too much money.  If that were true, then cutting would help our economy.  I have yet to find a compelling argument that our current problems stem from anything other than the housing and banking bubbles, neither of which had anything to do with the government (unless we want to talk about the nasty effects of over-deregulation on the parts of both the Clinton and the Bush administrations).  So why would cutting government spending help grow our economy? 

charleskaye
charleskaye

@MrObvious  @charleskaye " U.S. economists found 26 episodes in nine developed counties where reducing debt through spending cuts provided a large boost to economic growth in the first three years after their fiscal consolidation began."

charleskaye
charleskaye

@MrObvious"Neighboring Canada cut its debt by 12.8 percentage points of GDP between 1994 and 2006 and more than doubled its economic growth. Sweden cut spending by over 11 percent and spurred its economy to an annual growth rate of 3.4 percent. New Zealand experienced the same."

charleskaye
charleskaye

@MrObvious@charleskaye@53_3 

Here's just one... Do you know how to use the internet?

"The real story is that big government stifles growth and that what works is austerity.  The real story of Sweden comes in two parts: pre-1993 and post-1993, or the quasi-socialist years and the austerity years.

From 1980 through 1997, Sweden's government spent more than all other advanced economies as a fraction of GDP.  It peaked at 68% of GDP in 1993, an all-time record for advanced economies.

And how did that "socialism" work for Sweden?  Its economy grew only 1.4% per year from 1980 to 1993, when the U.S. was growing 3.0% per year.  And over those last five years, 1988-1993, it stopped growing altogether -- 0% growth.  It fell farther behind the U.S: from 81% as rich to 72% as rich.  Its debt grew to 70% of GDP.

In short, government spending in Sweden had the effect that free-market types always predict: slow growth and high debt.  Government spending does not stimulate; it stifles, and it sticks our kids with the bill.

Around 1993, Sweden's government changed its behavior: it started spending less.  By 2011 it was spending "only" 49% of GDP.  While that is still pretty high, that represents a cut of  19% of GDP, or about what the entire federal government of the U.S. spent each year in most of the Clinton and Bush years.

By 1998, Sweden was no longer Europe's biggest spender.  By 2011, it had dropped to 9th place of 34 advanced economies.  Sweden's government is still big, but not near the biggest, and it lost a lot of weight -- the equivalent of shedding the weight of the entire federal government of the U.S.

That is what I call "austerity": the government simply spending less.  And how did that work out for Sweden?  Since 1993, its economy grew 2.8% per year, or double its previous rate, while ours grew only 2.5% per year.  Its debt was cut from a high of 73% of GDP to 37%.