‘Hack’ Speak for Beginners

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

Speech is politicians’ stock-in-trade. Usually, words have meanings, and using words improperly has consequences — everywhere but in places like Washington and state capitals.

Because a confused public is more docile and compliant, politicians intentionally use common words in ways that are difficult to understand, even meaningless to most Americans. Over time, politicians have developed a unique, pidgin variation of English to obscure words’ true meanings. Accordingly, in politics, words are as imprecise as government accounting, so, if politicians are to be held responsible for things they say, voters must master hack-speak.

Here are some commonly-occurring political word usages, followed by their standard English translations:

“With all due respect” ” I mean no respect at all.

“Civility” ” A courtesy extended only to those who agree with the speaker.

“Political growth” ” A media term used to flatter politicians who run as conservatives, but vote with Democrats.

“Centrist” alternately, “Moderate”” Deceptive labels assumed by Republicans who vote with Democrats, and Democrats employ to camouflage their liberalism.

“Let me be perfectly clear” ” Bovine excrement alert!

“Hard data” ” Any heart-wrenching anecdote which supports a desired policy outcome.

“Bigotry” ” A character deficiency exhibited exclusively by people who oppose big government, question a poverty-perpetuating welfare state or honor American social and cultural traditions.

“Transparency” ” Opacity.

“Investment” ” Spending.

“Spending” ” A word often implied but rarely articulated in government unless combined with the words “cuts” or “offsets,” as in: “Spending cuts” ” Freezing or marginally reducing the rate of increase in spending, or “Spending offsets” ” Tax increases.

“Paying for a bill” ” Increasing taxes.

“Without paying for a bill” ” Without increasing taxes (borrowing).

“Recurring revenue” ” Taxes

“Revenue enhancement” ” Tax increase.

“Tax cut for the wealthiest 1 percent” ” Not increasing taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent.

“Calamitous consequences” ” A certain, though unspecified outcome of failing to increase taxes.

“King’s ransom” ” The first dollar in taxes the government forgoes.

“Fairness” ” A nebulous, artificial term having various applications. The American left reserves the right to define “fairness.”

“For the children” ” For the adults, or, at least, some adults.

“Policy guidance” ” Government regulations and mandates, usually issued by anonymous, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats.

“Doing nothing is not an option” ” A common political statement meant to convey urgency, usually associated with one of the following declarations: “It’s a ‘Must Pass’ bill” ” a) the political class wants it; b) it’s loaded with pork; c) generous special interests want it; or, most likely, d) all of the above, or “We must do something!” — We want to do something. (Note to political class: Doing nothing is always an option — and often the best option.)

“Debt Ceiling” ” An insignificant, quasi-fiscal technicality often raised without opposition or debate. (See: “Doing nothing is not an option”)
Aside from alibis, few politicians have ever been known for their imaginations, but language is another exception. Its seemingly infinite word combinations make English extraordinarily expressive. Our language is easily misused by politicians to fool gullible and inattentive voters.
So, pay attention. Learn the lingo. It drives the hacks crazy.