Rescue or Bailout?
By Kenrick Cleveland
Framing, Persuasion in Politics
“Hope is the expectation that something outside of ourselves, something or someone external, is going to come to our rescue and we will live happily ever after.” — Dr. Robert Anthony
Seven hundred billion (plus) dollars. How did they end up selling it? Well, there was fear. There was scarcity. There was impending doom. And it lead to panic and more fear and more doom. They said if it didn’t happen, surely we’d be ruined. They called it a bailout and when the public outcry was so strong that the house refused to pass it, they switched it to a rescue plan.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto told journalists who had been using the term (as were we all) “bailout” to describe the $700 billion package. “It’s really unfortunate shorthand for a very complicated issue.” The White House prefers the word “rescue.”
Those in charge believed that they would be in a better situation if this were known as a “rescue” rather than a “bailout.” Bailout sounds terrible. Rescue is safe. It gives you a warm feeling — like coming to while on the operating table.
And then Senator McCain got on the framing bandwagon and said, “Well I think what happened is we didn’t convince enough Republicans and Democrats…that this was a rescue package and not a bailout.” Convincing and persuasion was in order because face value wasn’t good enough.
I watched a bit of the CSPAN, the CNN, the FOX and the MSNBC while this was going down, as much as I could handle, and mainly from the perspective of, who’s being more persuasive in this deal. (CSPAN wins because they have no pundits at all.)
Problem is, this is so complicated that you have to be an economist or financial advisor or banking expert to understand it. It’s enough to make the common man’s eyes gloss over except for the fact that the taxpayer wasn’t having it because it was coming out of their pocket.
And now that there’s been a “rescue” (not that we the people have been rescued, but that big banks and such have been rescued), it seems like it’s not gotten any easier to understand.
The frame stuck, however, that this had to happen. The frame was that if it didn’t happen, the world would crumble starting with “Main Street”. The frame was that there was no way for the market to correct itself. The frame was that socializing the banks (in my opinion this is a form of socialism), was the only way for us not to head into a tailspin.
The real problem isn’t in the framing of this. The real problem isn’t the persuasiveness or lack thereof of the parties involved. The problem with this plan is not that it has been improperly spun. The real problem is that it won’t fix the crisis.
Until Next Time,
Kenrick E. Cleveland