'A Failure to Communicate'? Administration Tries to Explain Financial Crisis

Just after the report was released at a congressional hearing, Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams released a statement in response.

"Over the last month, Treasury has rolled out five core components of our Financial Stability Plan and we will continue communicating to the oversight bodies, the Congress, and the American people as we implement these programs, open up lending for consumers and businesses, and achieve economic recovery," the statement said.

At a hearing March 4, Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus told Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to use more basic words so that "the average American starts to understand."

"This hearing so reminds me of the 'Cool Hand Luke' movie," Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said at the hearing. "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

Another task for the administration's communications team is explaining to the public an alphabet soup of acronyms: EESA, TARP, TALF, PPIP, CAP, CPP -- the list goes on.

"There are all these different policies and people don't know what they are or how they fit together," Lakoff said.

And some terms have been changed overnight.

When the administration unveiled its plan to get bad assets off of banks' balance sheets late last month, it started referring to the assets as "legacy loans" rather than "toxic assets."

Just one more challenge in the administration's ongoing communications battle.

"This is such a hard problem," warned Lakoff. "They need serious help."

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