Last week’s opening session of the committee to reconcile House and Senate budgets offered 29 members of Congress the chance to expound – some might say bloviate – on the task. Opening the floor to professional talkers can be dangerous, but Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., the committee chairman, was fairly diligent in keeping members to their allotted five minutes.
As they talked, however, it was clear that Democrats and Republicans may speak the same language, but speak past each other. The National Journal did a quick analysis of the 50 most-used words in the opening statements by Ryan and Vice Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. For Murray, the most common word was “budget”, which she said 14 times. Ryan said “budget” four times, but his most common words were “debt” and “economy” at eight utterances each.
Murray said “economy” a couple times, but didn’t say “debt” once. Ryan didn’t say “sequestration” or “compromise”, words Murray said seven times each.
The conference committee needs a compromise budget by Dec. 13 in order to head off talk of another government shutdown. After the 29 opening statements, four words come to mind.
Good luck with that.