The word "stimulus" may have eight letters but the White House seems to think it's a four-letter word.
Earlier this week during a White House briefing we pressed Robert Gibbs on whether the President's plan for another $50 billion for roads and other infrastructure was a stimulus plan. He repeatedly refused to take the bait.
So what is it about that nasty word?
At today's press conference I asked the president if it's because the original stimulus is now so unpopular. He defended that stimulus: "It worked. It just hasn't done as much as we needed to do. We've still got a long ways to go and we're going to keep on doing it."
But he, too, carefully avoided actually saying the word.
I tried again: "So this is a second stimulus?"
It got a laugh form the press corps and a smile from the president, but it wasn't enough to break down the taboo on uttering that nasty word.
Here's what he said: "You know, the -- here's how I would -- there is no doubt that everything we've been trying to do -- everything we've been trying to do is designed to stimulate growth and additional jobs in the economy. That's our entire agenda."
He continued: " So I have no problem with people saying, 'The president is trying to stimulate growth and hiring.' Isn't that what I should be doing? I would assume that's what Republicans think we should do: to stimulate growth and jobs. And I will keep on trying to stimulate growth and jobs for as long as I'm president of the United States."
"Stimulate?" Apparently that's just fine. But "stimulus"? Heavens no. Wash out your mouth with soap.
More from the press conference:
Chip Reid is CBS News' chief White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.