Media coverage went for the snark, with terms like “dumbing down” and “mental teenagers” to describe the shift in vocabulary that has members of the U.S. Congress speaking at one grade level lower than they did seven years ago, around the sophomore level in high school.
Coverage sped past the foundation’s note that what some might interpret as a dumbing down of Congress, others will see as more effective communications. Lawmakers of both parties still speak above the heads of the average American, who reads between an 8th and 9th grade level.
In all that coverage, the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune was a rare voice expressing Our view: Congressional speech is easier to understand. Some of the members of Congress ranked as simple speakers defended the practice, as did freshman Rep. Mick Mulvaney. “People have been teaching this for decades,” he said on CNN. “If you want someone to understand your message, you speak clearly and concisely.”