In political discourse, the choice of certain words can weigh heavily on the tenor of debate. Words like "death tax" and "job creators" create imagery that necessarily affects perspective. Controlling the language of political debate allows one to influence public opinion and from that, policy choices.
Nowhere is word choice more important than in the current budget debate. Republicans are putting pressure on Democrats to make important concessions on entitlements. Now I'm not saying that entitlement programs aren't in need of reform, but I am adamant that reductions in funding to program participants is absolutely wrong in this current economic environment. The Bush tax cuts created the most egregious redistribution of income in our lifetime.
In order to help deflect pressure to decimate these programs I implore the Democrats to begin referring to entitlements as "earned benefits," because quite frankly that is what most of those programs represent.
In the same way that the word mandate negatively impacted Obama's health care program, many Americans tend to recoil at the notion that people feel entitled to something because it strongly suggests that they are getting something for nothing, and that is just not the case.
It's Democrats are ever going to gather the support they need to sustain these programs, they need to control the language of debate. Calling these programs what they actually are, earned benefits, will put Republicans on the defensive and help the majority of Americans who ever come to depend on these services in times of need.