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Monday, May 08, 2021

In these United States, it’s all about the branding — even on Capitol Hill. Showing off your tax dollars at work, members of Congress have their staffs thumbing through the dictionary to devise clever acronyms to attach to otherwise nondescript bills.

Remember Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, the deficit-fighting bill? Or Sarbanes-Oxley, the corporate reform law? Bills named for lawmakers are pretty much passe. These days, an attention-getting acronym — the political equivalent of a vanity license plate — is in…

“You’d be surprised at how much taxpayer time is spent in offices coming up with clever names for bills,” said Michael Franc, a former congressional staff member.

Though some bills in the past did have acronyms, they rarely grabbed the public’s attention. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, or OBRA, for example, is remembered by few people other than Washington’s most die-hard number-crunchers.

Now, acronyms help explain what the bill is all about. They are proof that even bill names have become part of Washington’s all-consuming political spin.

“If it helps people remember your legislation, I think it serves a useful purpose,” said Sen. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.). “But I’m starting to think people are starting to spend more time coming up with a clever acronym than they are worrying about the substance and the impact of the legislation they write.”

Here’s the list of the 14 acro-licious bill names mentioned in this LA Times article; not all of these actually got passed, but they are for-real, no-joking monikers tacked onto legislation reviewed by Congress. I’m sure there’s a treasure trove of past, present and pending legislative acts beyond these:

CAN-SPAM - Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act

CLEAN UP - Curtailing Lobbyist Effectiveness through Advance Notification, Updates and Posting Act

END - Elimination of Neglected Diseases Act

ENRON - Electricity Needs Rules and Oversight Now Act

OBRA - Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act

PETS - Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act

PUMP - Prevent Unfair Manipulation of Prices Act

SAFE - Security and Freedom Enhancement Act

SAFE CALL - Stop Attempted Fraud Against Everyone’s Cell and Land Lines Act

SNIFF - Safe Notification and Information for Fragrances Act

SOS - Sail Only if Scanned Act

START - Simplification Through Additional Reporting Tax Act

TEA-LU - Transportation Equity Act — A Legacy for Users (especially notable, as the “LU” part was mandated by bill sponsor Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), whose wife’s name is Lu)

USA PATRIOT - Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act

It’s funny: I wasn’t aware that the names of such oft-cited laws like USA PATRIOT and CAN-SPAM were, in fact, acronyms. I guess I should have known, from the all-caps; but somehow, it didn’t throw me.

Sure, it’s ultimately silly. But I admit, there’s a certain artistry to it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/08/2021 10:04:21 PM
Category: Politics, Creative | Permalink |

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  1. Remind me to tell you about the KITTENS Act of 2004.

    Comment by CGHill — 05/09/2021 @ 03:12:24 PM

  2. ASS - Americans Strive for Sanitation Act.
    That was fake but still not as funny as the real deal. This nation’s lawmaking body is doing everything it can to make the Roman Senate look ethical and moderate.
    What a country!!!

    Comment by Chuck — 05/10/2021 @ 06:54:20 PM

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