this week’s Bloomberg poll: Less than 10% of Americans know the truth

Posted: February 28, 2013 in economic policy, Fox "news", Obama, politics, Republicans
Tags: , , , , , ,

skyfallingIf you read this post, you will know something that 90% of Americans don’t.

I ended my last post with this:

And of course Congress is focusing on none of these real crises or real fights or opportunities for real progress. What Washington is dealing with is a self-imposed crisis – the automatic budget cuts happening this coming Friday. This is a crisis they could just end. This is a crisis that the White House and Congress agreed to previously and one that they now almost unanimously agree will be bad for the country – and all they have to do is repeal it.

So…as Rachel Maddow said on her show last night, in her eloquently sarcastic way, “Why not inflict wanton damage on the country? Do a roundhouse punch to our own face?”

SO – why are the Republicans refusing to budge on this? Obviously, it’s the deficit! It’s Out Of Control! It’s Spiraling Higher and Higher! It’s Constantly Growing! Obama is Killing Our Economy! It’s the GOP’s thesis that these automatic spending cuts will somehow show symbolic commitment to halting Obama’s Uncontrolled Spending.

The problem is…well…it’s bullshit.


Here’s what the deficit, as a percentage of GDP, was when Obama took office – check out the red bar on the left. Then check out where the deficit was in 2010. Then again in 2011. Then 2012. And it’s even more dramatically reduced when you check out the projections for this year.

Growing higher and higher all the time, right? Well, actually, no. The deficit (the amount the government spends that is more than the amount it takes in) is getting smaller. It’s dropped by 100’s of billions of dollars during Obama’s presidency. In fact, we are currently experiencing the fastest deficit reduction in several generations…and nobody know it!

On Monday of this week, Bloomberg News published a new round of polling data, most of it relating to the economy and the larger fiscal debate. The results are largely in line with expectations — most Americans prefer President Obama’s debt-reduction plans over Republicans’, and would like Congress to delay the sequester to avoid hurting the economy.

But there was one question in the poll I want to highlight here. It was about the federal budget deficit. The question:

Is it your sense that this year the deficit (the amount our government spends that is more than it takes in) is getting bigger or getting smaller, or is it staying about the same as last year?

The results?
62% of people said that the deficit is getting bigger.deficit 2

28% of people said that the deficit is staying about the same.

In sum: 90% of the people polled gave a wrong answer!

How many Americans know the right answer? According to the poll, 6% total.

We are so worried about this problem that we’re willing to inflict pretty big economic pain on the country starting Friday in order to strike a symbolic blow to the Out of Control Spiraling Deficit….but the problem with this is – it’s a FALSE CRISIS!

We learned recently that the U.S. budget deficit for the most recent fiscal year fell to $1.089 trillion, $200 billion smaller than it was last year, and nearly $300 billion smaller than when President Obama took office.

For many on the left, the news was discouraging — the deficit should be going up, not down, as we invest in job creation and economic growth. For the right, the complaints stayed the same — the deficit that exploded under Bush/Cheney was still too high. But regardless of ideology, the fact remains that there’s been an enormous drop in the size of the deficit in the first half of the Obama era.

How enormous? This item from Investors Business Daily notes a tidbit that’s generally ignored in the larger political debate over the nation’s finances:

Believe it or not, the federal deficit has fallen faster over the past three years than it has in any such stretch since demobilization from World War II.

Why don’t people know this?

It’s because the narrative from the Republicans, which is pretty much all many Americans hear due to their dependence
on FOX News, is that government spending is BAD BAD BAD, and Obama is BAD BAD BAD, and that we need to be Constantly Very Afraid and that we need to Slash Government Spending and that we need to Get Rid of Social Insurance and that we need to Get Government Out of Our Lives (unless, of course, we’re talking about sex and women’s bodies and marriage). And one of the GOP’s main strategies to keep us afraid and to move us toward their ideology is Obama’s Out Of Control Spending and Our Constantly Growing Deficit. They are truly invested in us all believing this narrative because it keeps us in line with their ideology.

But, again, it’s bullshit. The deficit has fallen by half of shared GDP in the last couple years! If you’re freaked out by the deficit, though, you will want to slash everything in sight.

As the political world obsesses over the ongoing debt-reduction talks, I hope it’s not too much to ask that policymakers remember that the deficit is already shrinking at an aggressive pace and that they do the right thing and NOT bring our country to the brink of another recession in a desire to Make a Statement About Our Out of Control Deficit.

(Read follow up story:  How to prove that Obama LOWERED the deficit in 4 easy steps)

  1. Torger Helgeland says:

    Not feeling well and too tired to read all of post, …so I ask anyone willing to answer: So what is in the GOP’s heads? They are included in the dumb 90% or they’re orchestrating some other agenda, implying they know the info here presented, but they believe a punch to our own face is somehow good? Torg

  2. […] the deficit is NOT getting bigger. In fact, most of the GOP rhetoric on this is pure bullshit.… […]

  3. Michael… I’m trying to determine if you really have bought into this drivel of if YOU are being deliberately dishonest…. your assertions move far beyond the “creative math” you typically use and into the territory of outright lies.

    First things first… why doesn’t your chart go back before 2009 to show your readers how all of this can be hung on George Bush? Because it would make you look foolish I’m guessing. Bush was a spender, no doubt. That’s why we conservatives didn’t particularly care for his economic policies. But even as one of the worst spenders the Republicans have had, he averaged $410 billion in deficit spending compared with Obama’s over $1.3 trillion average (3 times higher!).

    Prior to Obama’s election, the largest deficit the US had ever had in our history, was $489 billion (Bush in 2004). Obama has not had a single year with a deficit under $1 Trillion.

    Yes yes, but it’s all Bush’s fault! Look at 2009! Hmmmm. I’m just curious why you don’t point out that the deficit spending in 2009 included a $410 billion emergency spending bill signed into law by Obama? Or how about the $265 billion portion of the Stimulus that credited to 2009 (also signed into law by Obama). That’s at least $675 billion of the deficit that Bush had nothing to do with. Ah, but that doesn’t fit into your “blame Bush for everything” montra does it.

    I don’t have the luxury of pretty graphs in a comment unfortunately, but here is our deficit spending (in billions with % of GDP) going back to 2001:

    2001 = -$ 128 (+1.3%) *surplus
    2002 = $ 158 (-1.5%)
    2003 = $ 378 (-3.4%)
    2004 = $ 413 (-3.5%)
    2005 = $ 318 (-2.6%)
    2006 = $ 248 (-1.9%)
    2007 = $ 161 (-1.2%)
    2008 = $ 459 (-3.2%)
    2009 = $ 1413 (-9.9%)
    2010 = $ 1293 (-10.6%)
    2011 = $ 1300 (-8.3%)
    2012 = $ 1326 **estimated in budget

    “….fastest deficit reduction in several generations….”
    What was that term you used? Oh yeah, “bullshit”. That’s like me taking $100 from you, spending $90 of it, giving you back the $10 and claiming I just gave you $10. Hey, it’s more than anyone else is giving you, isn’t it?

    What Obama did is take all of his “emergency spending” measures he’s passed over the years and canonicalized them into the budgets… well if there were a budget that is. When was the last time this administration and Congress passed a budget again? Well, that’s the fault of those evil, destructive Tea-partiers that want the country to burn, children to starve, and women to die in forced childbirth though, right?

    2010 – So let’s see, for the 2010 budget, Democrats had a super-majority in both the house and the senate. Obama submitted a $3.5 trillion budget (and then spent $3.7) in 2010. That one passed by a party line vote. Not one Republican voted for it. Proof that they are “the party of no”!

    2011 – Obama submitted a $3.8 Trillion budget. Of course, this one was pitched to a much more difficult to manage one-vote-less-than-supermajority Congress. I’m sure he wasn’t *really* planning to spend all that money though…. I mean, he’s bring the deficit down right? He is working hard to cut government spending.. of course. Well, of course we know that the 2011 budget went down in flames 97-0 in the overwhelmingly Democrat controlled Senate. That’s right, Paul Ryan’s proposed budget got 40 more votes than the Presidents. No worries, though…. what the hell to we need a budget for anyway? Let’s just use continuing resolutions and emergency spending so we can do whatever the heck we want with no one to say otherwise. Better yet, let’s spend what we want, regardless of how it effects the economy, and then blame the GOP and the Tea Party for whatever goes wrong? It’s fantastic… our rabid sycophants in the media will carry the water for us and our old misguided buddy Michael Nash will quote a bunch of shady, erroneous statistics and conclusions to back us up too. Brilliant!

    2012 – More Republicans in the (still Democrat controlled) Senate apparently means two additional negative votes for our beleaguered Pres. 99-0 in 2012. Again, not one vote. Budget-schmudget. Who cares? We haven’t needed one before, why start now?? Oh, and we spent $3.8 trillion by the way. Thrifty! Way to reduce that government waste.

    (For comparison, rabid Republican spendthrift Bush 43 averaged $2.8 trillion in annual spending, and yes, we crazy right-wingers thought he was out of control! By comparison, Obama is averaging $3.6 trillion so far. For the math challenged that is a 29% increase in spending under Obama — not even counting the portion of 2009 spending he *should* be accountable for in a sane world)

    Whatever you do, don’t let any truth get in your way though…. keep the faith brother!

    • nash says:

      Dude, you’ve got an alarmingly loose hold on facts and a rather innocent (but dangerous) trust in the right wingers in congress and in whatever media you’re getting your information from. I wish I wasn’t traveling right now – I want to respond more fully. Hold that thought! Ill respons soon. Do keep in mind, though, that our country has never done better economically than it has under the Dems. Roosevelt, JFK, Clinton. That’s not coincidence. Also, it’s not all about budgets and spending. It’s about jobs and prosperity – and we’re not going to get that with the tea party slash and burn austerity goals. More later!

    • nash says:

      John – check out this follow up story: (It’s under THE ECONOMY in my tags – it’s called how to prove that Obama LOWERED the deficit in 4 easy steps.) Your position just doesn’t stand up to the facts, dude.

  4. Steven Wolff says:

    the truth!!! how unrepublican

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