Members of Congress Spent 27% of Their Time Taunting Each Other

Debates are part of a healthy democracy but why does it seem like Congress has so much trouble working out a deal over the budget? (Or anything else for that matter)

Harvard professor Gary King decided to take a look at how members of Congress communicate with each other and found something surprising: they spent 27% of their time taunting one another!

A Washington Post reporter sent King and his students a sampling of 48 recent news releases, a week’s worth, from three top congressional Democrats and three top Republicans.

Of those, King’s folks said, 20 percent were mainly about taunting the other side. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) sent one out on proposed Social Security changes that said, “Republicans have shown they couldn’t care less about those who have the least.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) sent out one on the anniversary of the federal health-care law saying, “Democrats have not displayed the same interest in listening to the American people.”

King said this tendency to taunt seems to show Congress distracting itself from its most basic mission: to find common ground to solve national problems.

“I think most people,” he said, “would say that this is not a good thing.”

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