Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is it a 'bailout'? Is it a 'rescue'? The White House says ...

BAIL·out? RES·cue?

Are President Bush and supporters of his $700 billion plan to deal with the causes of the nation's economic turmoil promoting...

a.) A bailout?

b.) A rescue?

There may be no legal or legislative difference. And for those seeking help -- from individual homeowners trying to make their mortgage payments to Wall Street CEOs -- the description may be irrelevant.

But it is more than a semantic question. And the White House took issue today with the word BAILOUT -- especially when written in headlines and cable TV screen "crawls" in SCREAMING CAPITAL LETTERS.

The concern: It inherently suggests government help for investors whose risky gambles have left them deep in the red.

"It's really unfortunate shorthand for a very complicated issue," said Deputy White House Press Secretary Tony Fratto.

"Our critics took the language of a 'bailout for Wall Street,'" he said, and the news media adopted it as the shorthand to describe the administration's aid package.

He insisted, at the daily White House news briefing: "It is not a bailout for Wall Street. It is not a bailout for CEOs."

The word the White House prefers is "rescue."

Certainly, it carries less emotional weight.

As for definitions, here's some help from dictionary.com:

According to dictionary.com:

Bailout: An instance of coming to the rescue, esp. financially: a government bailout of a large company.

Rescue: to free or deliver from confinement, violence, danger, or evil.

So, which is it? A bailout? A rescue? Does it matter?

-- James Gerstenzang

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