Check out some of the keywords below:

  • 547
    A section of tax code; Political organziations that under IRS rules can accept unlimited donations and spend that money on political advocacy, these groups must disclose their locations monthly
  • 99ers
    Long term unemployed who have exhausted the 99 weeks of eligible unemployment benefits
  • AAFB
    Andrews Air Force Base, the home of Air Force One.
    American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees; the largest public employee and health care workers union in the U.S.
  • Anti-trust exemption
    Health insurance companies do not have to comply with federal laws that regulate trade and prevent monopolies. They are regulated by states. In a majority of Metropolitan areas, a single health insurer controls at least 50 percent of the market.
  • Armistice Agreement
    A formal agreement signed by the U.N., China and Korea to end the Korean War in 1953.
  • Armistice Day
    November 11, 1919 — Marked the first anniversary of the end of WWII
  • Baked in
    A predetermined outcome
  • Barnstorming
    When a political candidate hits the campaign trail, making stops across a state or country
  • Beat Sweetner ** Special Journo Speak
    When reporters write a flattering "profile" on an official they cover on their beat
  • Bend the cost curve
    Lower costs over time
  • Big Gulp
    A barge that has been converted into a large capacity skimmer.
  • Bilat
    Short for bilateral; a one-on-one diplomatic meeting
  • 'Bottle Noise Bombs'
    Per Secretary Gates -- Designed to affect the security climate and intimidate people not to vote in Iraq elections.
  • Bottom Kill
    Opposite of "top kill," drilling mud and cement blown into the well from relief wells under the leak to seal it off
  • Brush pass
    The clandestine, hand-to-hand delivery of items or payments made as one person walks past another in a public place
  • Cables
    Informal written communication between government officials
  • Cadillac tax
    A nickname for the president’s plan to tax the most expensive “cadillac” plans to help pay for reform. It would tax insurance companies and critics say the cost would be passed on to consumers.
  • Cap and Trade
    Environmental policy that sets a cap on the amount of pollution and allows companies to trade credits that permit pollution.
  • Carbon neutral
    Balancing the carbon released in pollution by sequestering an equal amount, or buying carbon credits to make up the difference.
  • Caucus
    A group of people in the same political party who decide on policy or select a political candidate
  • CDO or Collateralized Debt Obligation
    The repackaging of loans and other debt into a single security that can be sold. The higher the risk of those loans defaulting, the more the CDO pays.
  • Circling the wagons
    Gathering around to defend and protect
    Washington likes its Western talk! To use in a sentence: Democrats are circling the wagons around Harry Reid so he survives.
  • Close hold
    Don't tell anyone
  • Cloture
    A vote taken to end debate: 60 are needed in the Senate. Cloture is the only procedure by which the Senate can vote to place a time limit to overcome a filibuster.
  • CR
    Continuing resolution
  • Codel
    Short for congressional delegation; a visit abroad by members of Congress.
  • COLA
    Cost of living adjustment
  • Colloquy
    A formalized, scripted discussion on the House floor that helps demonstrate the intention of lawmakers as they craft a bill.
  • Communique
    A document released at the end of a summit outlining the achievements of the summit and the road ahead.
  • Confirmable
    Candidate for appointed office whose known positions and background set off few or no alarms
  • Cross tabs or Cross tabulation
    The breakdown inside polls of political affiliation, self-described ideology, age, sex, income bracket
  • Curtain raiser
    A TV or print story that previews a certain event
  • Cuts camera
    The camera that shows the other angle, the reporters, the unexpected closeups that the main "head on" camera misses
  • Dead cat bounce
    A politician or party sees a brief bounce in poll numbers after a period of decline.
  • Debt ceiling
    Maximum level of national debt the government can take on
  • Deem and pass
    The House can "deem" certain parts of the health care bill as passed, without having to vote on them.
  • Deep regret
    Diplospeak for I'm really, really sorry
  • Deliverables
    Term associated with foreign policy; what are the concrete outcomes especially in meetings with foreign leaders?
  • Derivative
    A way to buy insurance against some risk or to bet on some financial outcome
  • Discretionary spending
    Spending set by annual appropriations made by decisions of Congress, optional spending as opposed to mandatory funding for entitlement programs
  • District work period
    Time set aside for members of the House to visit their home districts
  • Donor maintenance
    When a politician meets with his donors to say hello and raise some money
  • DREAM Act
    Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act
  • Drilling 'mud:'
    Clay and minerals custom mixed with oil or water, in this case to reach 16.4 pounds per gallon so it's heavier than the oil and the water
  • Document dump
    Release of large quantities of requested information.
  • Donor maintenance
    Fundraising term for keeping your big donors happy with perks.
  • Doomsday plane
    The modified Boeing 747 designed to serve as a backup Pentagon and Air Force One in case of attack.
  • DOS
    Denial of Service Attack
  • Doughnut hole
    In a Medicare drug benefit, coverage ends at a certain dollar amount, and patients must pay for drugs themselves until they reach a second very high deductible.
  • Dove
    Opposes military force to resolve conflict
  • DPRK
    Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  • Down ballot
    Races below the marquee races on ballots, like dogcatcher or coroner or judge
  • Dual tracking
    Trying to pass two different bills at the same time
  • Earmark
    A Congressional provision directing funds to be spent on specific projects, typically inserted by a lawmaker to benefit his or her state.
  • East Wing
    In the White House, home to the First Lady and her staff
  • Echo chamber
    Talking points repeated over and over
  • EEOB
    Eisenhower Executive Office Building
  • Emergency declaration
    How local and state governments as for federal funding in a crisis; funding is capped at $5 million
  • Exit poll
    A poll of voters as they leave the voting place
  • Express advocacy
    Political ads that explicitly ask voters to elect a candidate or defeat a candidate
  • Evergreen ** Special Journo Speak Look
    A news story that can be aired at any time, it's not time sensitive or tied to a news event
  • Family photo
    Group shot at G20 or other big diplomatic gatherings
  • Fannie Mae
    Federal National Mortgage Association
  • FATA
    Federally administered tribal areas
  • Fat finger
    Slang for a typo where you hit the wrong key, or two keys instead of one key
  • Fence mending
    An attempt to try to repair icy or broken relations with the leader of another country or a fellow politician
  • Final status
    Commonly understood to be the key issues that need to be resolved before a final peace deal can be reached: how to share Jerusalem, the borders of two states, the future of Palestinian refugees and Israel's security
  • Firewall
    Seats that must be held in order for one party to retain the majority
  • Flotela
    Floating hotels; housing for BP workers in the Gulf.
  • Floatercade
    Presidential motorcade, but on boats
  • Food security
    Having a reliable source of food and sufficient resources to purchase it
  • Frank
    Diplomatic code for contentious
  • Franking
    Privilege allowing a member of Congress to use his signature in lieu of a postage stamp.
  • Freddi Mac
    Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation
  • Gaggle
    Informal, off-camera briefing with Press Corps by the White House Press Secretary
  • Gang of eight
    Eight members of Congress who must be informed by the White House and CIA about any covert intelligence orders signed by the president.
  • GDP or Gross Domestic Product
    The market value of all final goods and services made within the borders of a country in a year.
  • GOTV
    Get Out The Vote
  • Government in a box
    Gen. McChrystal coined the phrase to describe the U.S. backed Afghanistan administrators and police who set up the civilian government in Marja right after the offensive.
  • Grandfathered
    TO be exempted from new regulations
  • Green Room
    On the first floor of the White House. Historians claim its been a presidential favorite for its "intimate scale and distinctive decor."
  • Grip and grin
    When a politician shakes hands and smiles, mostly for the cameras
  • Ground game
    The strategy used by a campaign to get voters to the polls.
  • Hawk
    Favors military force to resolve conflict
  • Hazwoper
    Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response — a certification standard for Hazmat cleanup jobs
  • Hotwash
    Military and government term describing discussions and evaluations of an agency's performance following training or a major event
  • Hoya
    Greek for "what" or "such"
    Human intelligence
  • Hypothetical
    Wiggling out of an answer
  • IAEA or International Atomic Energy Agency
    The UN Agency in charge of monitoring nuclear activity around the world
  • I'm just saying
    A passive way of telling others I'm right and you're not
  • IE
    Independent expenditure
  • Interagency
    Sharing ideas across different branches of the government
    Investiture ** Court speak
    Final, formal step to becoming a Supreme Court Justice
  • Jawboning
    The use of public appeals to influence a business
  • Jirga
    Pashto word, a gathering of a few or a large number of people
  • Joint Base Andrews
    Naval Air facility in Washington, D.C.
  • Judicial fifth
    Nominee not answering a case question during confirmation because he or she might have to decide that case
  • Junk stop
    Injecting debris into a well as a stopper
  • Lame duck
    Elected official holding office during the period between the election and swearing-in of a successor
  • Liberal leave
    Allows government workers to leave early or call out on bad weather days
  • Lid
    Word used by the White House to say, "no more open press events," like travel lid or photo lid.
  • Likely voter
    Voting record, level of interest
  • Loop current
    Warm ocean current in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Magic words
    Vote for, elect, support, defeat, reject
  • Major disaster declaration
    No cap on how much federal money a local government can get
  • Man up!
    Don't be a wuss
  • Margin of error
    The maximum possible error rate of a given poll
  • Micromanaging
    Using political polling and consumer data to shape a message
  • Mistakes were made
    When officials acknowledge errors, screw-ups or wrongdoings
  • 'My friend'
    Loosely translated, it means: I totally and fundamentally disagree with you but let's keep it collegial, shall we?
  • NEOB
    New Executive Office Building
    Not In My Back Yard
  • Nothingburger ** Special Journo Speak Look
    A derisive term to describe a story or event that doesn't have a lot of importance/significance — but is hyped as though it does
  • Nuclear Posture View
    Process determining the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. Security strategy
  • OBE
    Overtaken by events — a military term; when a situation changes so rapidly that a proposed plan or course of actions is no longer possible or relevent.
  • OEOB
    Old Executive Office Building
  • Ohio clock
    Clock that stood in or near the Senate Chamber ever since it was purchased in the early 1800s. No record explains how it received its name.
  • Omnibus bill
    Bundles together several measures into one
  • On Message
    When a politician sticks to his talking points
  • Open source
    Information available to the public
    Operations Security. It means to keep sensitive information about a mission or operation from your enemy.
  • Optics
    The way a decision or actions looks to observers, especially as it pertains to the actions of elected and government officials.
  • OTF
    Off the record, on the run
  • OTUS
    "Of the United States" as in:
    POTUS — President of the United States
    FLOTUS — First Lady of the United States 
    SCOTUS — Supreme Court of the United States
  • OVP
    Office of Vice President
  • P5 Plus One
    The group considering sanctions against Iran. The "P5" stands for the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: The United States, Britain, France, China, Russia. Germany is the plus one because of its long-standing dealings with Iran.
  • Pat-down
    A pat-down inspection complements the hand-wand inspection. In order to ensure security, this inspection may include sensitive areas of the body. Security officers are rigorously trained to maintain the highest level of professionalism.
  • Pebble Beach
    Nickname for the White House North Lawn area used for television stand-ups
  • Pen and pad
    An off-camera briefing for reporters
  • Pickup
    One party takes a seat away from the other party
    Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Greece
  • Plenary
    Full attendance
  • Pocket veto
    President does not sign the bill; Congress must be adjourned
  • Point of order
    Made during floor proceedings to say the rules are being violated; proceedings stop and presiding officer decides if it's valid
  • Pool hold
    The place where the reporters and photograhers stay while the president's at an event.
  • Pooled Press
    A media arrangement where the major TV networks "pool" their resources and one network covers an event for the others. ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC are in the network pool rotation.
  • Pool spray
    Media is allowed into an event at the White House for a quick minute or so and photographers are "spraying the room" — shooting from left to right, quickly, to capture the scene.
  • Prebuttal
    A preemptive rebuttal
  • Predator drone
    Unmanned aerial vehicle
  • Prejudge
    To judge beforehand, usually without sufficient evidence. In Washington, it means — "No, I'm not going to answer that question. Next, please."
  • President's Daily Briefing
    Top secret document containing highest level intelligence on threats to national security.
  • Presidential finding
    A highly classified presidential order authorizing covert action
  • Privileged
    Special measures that cannot be filibustered from coming to the floor
  • Productive
    A safe throwaway word that means nothing and offends nobody.
  • Proprietary Trading
    Wall Street language that turns into Washington Speak: Investments made banks using their own money, not the money of clients
  • Pushback
    Opposition or resistance to a plan and in this case — a reporter
  • Quartet
    United States, United Nations, Russia and European Union
  • Readout
    A briefing of a meeting delivered by a top official who is in the meeting
  • Read-in
    To be briefed on a piece of intelligence, or intel program or any secret that is closely held
  • Recidivism
    The repitition of criminal or delinquent behavior, especially after one has been punished or served time for said behavior
  • Reconciliation
    A procedure that would allow one party to bypass a potential filibuster and pass a bill with a simple majority vote. The rule was created to allow Congress to pass budgets in extreme circumstances and is rarely ever used.
  • Red Meat
    When a politician plays to his base
  • Red Notice
    International wanted persons alert
  • Redundancy
    Systems in place to catch other systems' errors
  • Resolution of ratification
    Formal consent by the Senate to ratify a treaty
  • Responsible party
    As it relates to the BP oil spill in the Gulf, the "responsible party" is the person who pays the bill for the clean-up. It comes from a law passed 20 years ago after the Exxon Valdez disaster.
  • Retail politics
    When a politician seeks votes one-by-one, in person.
  • Ride herd
    To supervise someone or something
  • Rider
    A clause added to a legislative bill having little to do with the subject matter of the bill.
  • Robocalls
    An automated phone call that politicians use in a campaign
  • Robosign
    When a document is signed without being reviewed
  • Robust
    Strong, healthy or hardy
  • ROK
    Republic of Korea
  • RON
    Rest overnight or remain overnight
  • SALT
    Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
  • SCIF
    Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility
  • Sherpa
    People that lead the way and make sure everyone reaches the Summit safely
  • Shellacking
    Losing 60 or more seats in the House
  • Short
    To bet against an investment long; to bet that investment will do well
  • Sitrep
    Situation report
  • Solicitor General
    America's lawyer - responsible for representing the United States before the Supreme Court
  • SORT
    Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty
  • SOUTHCOM or  U.S. Southern Command
    The military divides up the world into nine regions. Southcom is the region that covers Haiti and is now coordinating the U.S. military response in Haiti
  • Special relationship
    The alliance between the U.S. and the U.K.
  • Spike **Special Journo Speak Look
    To cancel a story a reporter is working on
    Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
  • State Work Period
    Aka Senate Recess
  • Statuary Hall
    One of the most historic chambers in the U.S. Capitol
  • Stemwinder
    A rousing or stirring speech
  • Stopgap
    A temporary substitute for something else
  • STS
    Space Transportation System — original tame for the space shuttle program
  • Stump
    You often hear about a politician or a surrogate out on the "stump" or giving a "stump speech." Quick history — It began in the 19th century when politicians actually spoke from sawed off tree stumps.
  • Super pac
    A political action committee that may raise unlimited sums of money
  • SVTC
    Secure Video Teleconferences
  • Telemetry
    Ballistic Missile Test Data — Key Variables recorded and transmitted back to ground stations for analysis
  • The Base
    A group of voters devoted to a single political party or ideology
  • The Diet
    Japanese parliament composed of 242 members of the House of Councilors, and 480 members of the House of Representatives
  • Tick tock
    The play by play of how a major decision is made
  • Think tank
    Organization involved in policy advocacy and research in areas such as political strategy, economics and science
  • Threat stream
    A series of terrorism threat reports from a particular group or aimed at a specific target.
  • Thumbsucker ** Journo Speak Look
    A big, philosophical "what does it all mean" story
  • Top kill
    Pumping heavy drilling fluid or "mud" into the well to stop the flow, then sealing it with cement
  • Top line
    The basic findings of a poll; the bullet point endings of take away
  • Tracking poll
    A poll conducted daily, usually part of a three day rolling sample, to track voter trends
  • Triangulation
    Politician presenting ideology as above and between the left and right side. Coined by Dick Morris during Clinton's re-election campaign.
  • Two minute warning
    Notice given to Press Corps before briefings and news conferences
  • UNGA
    UN General Assembly
  • "Up or Down" vote
    Another word for reconciliation or as Republicans would say, "jamming it through."
  • Vessel of opportunity
    Program incorporating fishermen and local boaters to help in the cleanup in the Gulf
  • Vetting
    Background check on a candidate for a political appointment
  • VIP pool
    When the five networks "pool" their coverage of a very important person's travel
  • Walk it back
    To try to refine, clarify or minimize a statement to undo the damage
  • Ways and Means Committee
    The chief tax-writing committee in the House with jurisdiction over social security, unemployment and Medicare. It is also an English Parliamentary term referring to methods of collecting money to meet the requirements for the state.
  • WMD
    William M. Daley
  • Winner
    A candidate who has clearly won the race, beyond the normal margin for a recount.
  • "With all due respect"
    The words politicians use just as they're about to lower a boom on an adversary. Loosely translated it means — "I'm about to say something you don't like."
  • Woodshed
    Being in trouble and getting chewed out
  • Wonk
    Expert who studies a subject or issue thoroughly or excessively; associated with "policy wonk"

© 2013

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