Lexicon of Common Budget Words And Phrases


Assumptions. (See Overly Optimistic)

Balanced. Bipartisan. Best Practices.  Benchmark.

Business (Often preceded by Struggling and Small or both and followed by the phrase As Usual

Coalescing. Categorical. Compromise. Complicated. Concerns. 

Cuts. (Commonly used in conjunction with Spending but also Draconian and Difficult.)

Chronic (Used in conjunction with the phrase Budget Problems or Deficit.)

Credits (Used in conjunction with Tax)

Cynical (See Honest)

Draconian. Difficult. Deferral. Debt. Debate.

Expenditures. Economy. Elimination.

Fungible. Forecast.

Fiscal House. (A place that apparently forever requires being put in order)


Gimmicks (Defined differently by Republicans and Democrats)

Honest (Defined differently by Republicans and Democrats.)

Hold Hostage

Jobs. Job Creation. (Anti- is a common assessment by Republicans of Democratic policies)

Job Killer (Used, primarily by Republicans, to describe Legislation, usually introduced by Democrats)

Kicking the Can Down the Road.

Kabuki (Preceded by Budget)

Leverage. Living Within Our Means.

Long-term (Often used in conjunction with Investment, sometimes, although less credibly, with Planning)


Ongoing. Out Years.

On The Backs of…  (Insert interest group upon whom budget is balanced.)

Overly Optimistic (Commonly and all too often correctly used in conjunction with Projections, Estimates, Assumptions and Expectations.)

Projections. Partisan. Programmatic. Pensions. Proposition 98. Private Sector. Priorities. 

Politics (Frequently used in conjunction with Playing or Partisan)

Painful (Used in conjunction with Cuts, primarily by Democrats.)

Reversion. Rebenching. Retrenching. Revision. Realignment. Reform. Reserve. Restorations. Reductions.

Realistic (Commonly although usually mistakenly used in conjunction with Projections, Estimates, Assumptions and Expectations.)

Revenue (Sometimes sandwiched between Irresponsible and Assumptions.)

Rhetoric (See Honest and Cynical.)

Road to Recovery

Taxes (Used in conjunction with any number of words both positively and pejoratively.)

Shortfall. Stopgap. Smoke and Mirrors. Statutory.

Spending (Used in conjunction with Cuts by Democrats and Runaway by Republicans.) 

Structural (Used in conjunction with Deficit

Trigger. Transperancy.

Tough (Used in conjunction with Choices)

Temporary (Used by Democrats primarily in conjunction with Tax Increases)




Filed under: Capitol Cliches


  1. ADD:

    “Moving forward” (a slightly redundant, shallow phrase indicating that an action is intended to shape the future; dully reminds the listener that the action should not produce backward movement. Common usage: “We’re moving forward,” or “Moving forward, this bill…”)

    Comment by Renee VV — 6.14.2012 @ 8:23 am

  2. Perfect (the enemy of the good)
    Baby (to be split)
    Solutions (in lieu of cuts or taxes, if voting aye)

    Comment by Jim E — 6.15.2012 @ 8:57 am

  3. excellent additions. xoxox

    Comment by Greg Lucas — 6.15.2012 @ 9:04 am

  4. You left out one of my favorites, “investment” (if it’s expensive, not quite an emergency need, and you think it’s a good idea, long term) vs. “boondoggle” (if ou don’t like it, aren’t conceding it will ever be needed, but agree it’s expensive).

    Comment by Mike McGuire — 7.02.2012 @ 5:20 pm

  5. Also, babies seem to frequently be “thrown out with the bathwater” in Sacramento. My apologies for the typo in my last post: it should be “you” shortly after “boondoggle.”

    Comment by Mike McGuire — 7.02.2012 @ 5:23 pm

  6. “cautiously optimistic” means either “we have no idea how this will work out” or “we are pretty sure we are wrong.”

    Comment by steven gourley — 9.11.2012 @ 1:20 pm

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