Thursday, August 16, 2007

Crafting the WORD

U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland issued a news release recently applauding President Bush for signing into law S. 761, the “America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act.”

The bipartisan bill, which Mikulski, a Democrat, co-sponsored, “focuses on improving innovation in the United States by increasing the federal investment in research and education, and developing a national innovation infrastructure.”

In case you didn’t realize it, S. 761 has been tagged the “America COMPETES Act.” See, take the first letter of “Creating Opportunities …,” etc., etc., and you get COMPETES.

Here’s another one: The name of the so-called USA PATRIOT Act (H.R. 3162) is short for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.” Then there’s IDEA, i.e., the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was the subject of a story in The Daily Record on Aug. 6 (subscriber-only link).

My question is, who thinks up these titles to bills that can be turned into catchy acronyms? I have a vision of some wizened, ex-English professor sitting in some obscure corner of the Congressional Research Service, patiently thumbing through his dog-eared copy of Webster’s, searching for just the right words. Then, just for fun, he finishes The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle — in ink.

-PAUL SAMUEL, Associate Editor

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