Going for Broke

The word is "recession," whether or not Bush will say the word, and we're in it.

George W. Bush's press conference the other day on the economy was really a hoot — his presence never promised us a Rose Garden performance that wouldn't be.

But for a change, this performance on April 29 was more notable for what Bush didn't — and wouldn't — say.

Here's one of the exchanges with a nameless reporter:

Reporter: Americans believe we are in a recession. What will it take for you to say those words, that we are in a recession?

Bush: Yes, thank you. I've answered the question on the words and terminologies. I will tell you that these are very difficult economic times — very difficult. And we'll let the economists define it for what it is. I would hope that those who worry about recession, slowdown, whatever you want to call it, make the tax cuts permanent as a way of helping to address this issue — because if you're somebody out there trying to plan your future and you're worried about the future and you think your taxes are going to go up, it's going to cause different behavioral patterns.

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Bush managed to call the recession a "slow economy" and "difficult times," a "sour time," "tough for the American people."

The U.S. press is having the same problem coming to terms with the term. For years now, a civil war has been raging in Iraq and most of the U.S. press refused to call it that. Now we're in a recession, and the papers won't call it that. What are they waiting for? Walter Cronkite's pronouncement?

Overseas, there's no such namby-pambiness. AS an April 30 story in the Scotsman said:

Britain could follow America into a full-blown recession unless there is an urgent and aggressive cut in interest rates, a member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee warned.

Peter MacMahon's piece went on to quote the guy, economist David Blanchflower, as saying:

"There has been no decoupling of the two economies: contagion is in the air. The US sneezed and the UK is rapidly catching a cold."

You'd better hope it just a cold.

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