Stimulus: No Longer a `Dirty Word?’

Photograph by Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

Construction workers at a highway road project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in Columbus, Ohio, on June 18, 2010.

Stimulus is no longer taboo at the White House.

President Barack Obama, who has refrained from using the term “stimulus” all year, let it slip three times in that off-the-record interview with the Des Moines Register. Under pressure, the White House let the Register publish the interview.

In private, Obama doesn’t think stimulus is a dirty word.

After Obama’s party lost control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 mid-term elections, the White House stopped trying to sell the stimulus to a skeptical public. The unemployment rate was stuck above 9 percent and the stimulus appeared to have little impact.

Starting in 2011, there was a virtual ban on the word. Obama’s image-makers scheduled precious few events to celebrate the bill by its full name: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

It was a marked shift for a president who spent much of his first two years traveling the country, touting the $832 billion spending program. He mentioned his recovery act 71 times in 2009 and then 59 times in 2010.

It was a mainstay of his roadshow, and the recovery act featured prominently in his January 2010 State of the Union Address.

But then in 2011, the stimulus talk went cold. Just 12 mentions of “Recovery Act” in 2011 and only 8 in 2012.



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