As we have learned from many fights before, using the language and framing of our opponents when communicating with voters plays perfectly into their hands.
Unfortunately, it appears that the "Fiscal Cliff" catch phrase has become the deceptively framed phrase to describe the expiration of the Bush Tax cuts and a package of other economically impactful, expiring policies including the debt limit, automatic spending cuts, and unemployment benefits.
My counter-offer for a progressive version of the "Fiscal Cliff" is to call it the "Fiscal Bluff". Geologically, cliffs and bluffs really aren't that different, in that they both start with a very steep incline. A bluff, however, has a flat top. But that's not the important difference between these phrase.
Of course, the important difference between these phrases is the double-meaning of the word bluff to also include a definition of what gamblers do or generals do on the battlefield... projecting strength in an attempt to force your opponent to fold or misplay their hand because they think you have more resolve, a stronger hand or that you are just crazy enough to go down burning.
And bluff is exactly what this is. The Republicans know after the shellacking they just took in 2012 that they don't have the leverage they pretend that they have in this grand negotiation. The voters have backed President Obama and his priorities for paying down the debt with a balanced approach. Democrats are all too happy to let the Republican's try to bluff us with their 3 of a kind hand when we have a full house with the voters.
Every time you call it the fiscal bluff, make sure you say it with a smile, and get in your reasons why you think the Repubs are bluffing. And let's see if this new messaging battle can get some traction.