Debt Ceiling Speeches: What Obama and Boehner Really Said

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — For better or worse, “compromise” doesn’t seem to be a word in John Boehner’s vocabulary.

The speaker of the House did not use the word “compromise” once in the televised debt ceiling speech he gave last night, whereas President Obama used the word six times during his speech moments before, according to MainStreet’s analysis of transcripts of the dueling debt speeches.

The back-to-back speeches were the latest development in a months-long drama over whether and how to raise the U.S. debt limit before the country begins defaulting on its payments early next week. During his speech, the president pushed for a plan that combines trillions of dollars in spending cuts with revenue from changes to the tax code, all while boosting the debt ceiling limit long enough to last through next year.

Speaker Boehner, on the other hand, pushed for a bill that would cut spending by trillions of dollars with no new tax revenue and a debt ceiling extension that would last only for about six months.

MainStreet plugged the two speeches into a word cloud generator to determine the key words used by each politician. Sure enough, President Obama’s speech focused on the need for politicians to work together on a plan, as demonstrated by his emphasis of words like “compromise,” “balanced” and “approach,” three of the words he said most often last night. Interestingly, Obama also appeared to use more negative words than Boehner to characterize the debt ceiling debate including “dangerous” and “default.” The latter of those d-words was uttered seven times by the president and just once by Boehner.

By contrast, Boehner’s speech focused more on the inefficiencies of government and the need to cut spending. The word cloud from Boehner’s speech is dominated by words like “spending,” “binge” and “cuts.” One word he rarely uttered though was “tax,” which was said only once, compared to Obama who said it 11 times.

But within their heated rhetoric, the two politicians did emphasize a few of the same words like “American,“ “government,” “debt,” “Washington” and “bill.” So at least both parties seem to agree that the country is in debt and needs Washington to make a bill.

It’s going to be a long week.

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