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Orwellian Language Alive and Well in Washington, Tax Group Says

CNS News | June 24 2004

A taxpayer watchdog group calls it ironic that former President Bill Clinton's book has come out on the same week that the late author George Orwell would have turned 101 years old.

Orwell's novel 1984 is famous for its politically correct language called newspeak. And the National Taxpayers Union Foundation notes that Bill Clinton is famous for once debating the meaning of the word "is."

Based on its research, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation says it has uncovered 14 (bipartisan) examples of the Orwellian newspeak that are "alive and all-too-well" in Washington today.

"Orwellian words and phrases proliferate in virtually every policy area of our deliberately dumbed-down democracy," said Mark Schmidt, author of the NTUF study.

"Consider the two most recent Presidential campaigns," he said: "After 'reinventing government,' we "crossed a bridge to the twenty- first century" to a place where 'no child is left behind,' thanks to the wonders of 'compassionate conservatism.'

The NTUF says Schmidt "spared no corner of the federal realm" in his search for examples of "impenetrably obtuse or even oxymoronic" language that is used to "expand the fiscal, regulatory, or social dominance of the government."

The new "newspeak" highlights include the following phrases:

-- Tax Cuts for the Rich: One-third of all tax filers pay no federal income taxes, NTUF noted, while 16 million actually receive payments from the federal government's Earned Income Credit. It is thus impossible to "cut income taxes" for this group, NTUF said.

-- "Spending" Money on Tax Cuts: Returning money to taxpayers is a decision not to spend more on federal programs -- yet opponents of the 2001 tax cuts complained that Washington was "spending" budget surpluses on tax relief.

-- "Investments in ...": Despite calling for federal spending restraint, the Bush administration's 2004 budget trumpets "major new investments in, Medicare, health care, homeland security, energy independence, compassion, and the unemployed" that will raise spending by tens of billions each year, NTUF said.

-- Homeland Security: Since September 11th, this slogan has been the rallying cry for stale subsidy schemes that prop up everything from Amtrak to peanuts, NTUF said.

-- Working Families: Politicians who use this term are appealing largely to labor-union members with reliably liberal political leanings, NTUF said.

"America has not become the totalitarian state Orwell sketched, but the big government of today bears more than a passing resemblance to the 'Big Brother' of the novel 1984," Schmidt concluded.

"It is vital for citizens in a free society to think critically about what they hear and read from politicians, pundits, and the press. Language is at the root of political consciousness."

NTUF describes itself as the research arm of the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union.

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