The Deficit Is Rapidly Shrinking, But Only 6 Percent Of America Knows It

In reality, President Obama’s policies have grown government spending at a lower rate than any president since Dwight Eisenhower. In Republican reality, Obama has exploded government spending in a way that makes even George W. Bush seem miserly.

The only way Republican reality makes sense is if they can convince Americans to do one thing: Completely forget what happened in September of 2008.

Then make ALL-CAPS accusations like this:

The linked story compares fiscal year 2008 — which conveniently ended on September 30, 2008 — to fiscal year 2012. That’s a comparison you would make if you were obsessed with absolving George W. Bush and blaming Barack Obama for the explosion in government spending.

What happened in September, 2008?

Well, September, 2008 is the month when Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and the financial crisis began its slow-motion demolition of trillions in American wealth and millions of American jobs.

Then on September 30, 2008:

Then, on October 3, 2008, Bush signed the first part of TARP, which authorized hundreds of billions more in emergency spending.

In early January of 2009, before President Obama took office, the Congressional Budget Office suggested the 2009 deficit would be $1.2 trillion. It ended up being closer to $1.4 trillion.

How much of 2009 federal spending is Obama responsible for? Experts estimate that Obama was responsible for $140 billion to $203 billion of 2009 government spending.

So Bush was responsible for about $3.3 trillion of the $3.52 the U.S. spent. Adjusted for inflation — as the right-wing site that DrudgeReport linked to, CNS News, did to make its ridiculous charges against Obama — Bush’s share of the 2009 budget is about $3.56 trillion. In 2012, the government spent $3.54 trillion. It’s a slight decline, but a decline nonetheless.

What is much more significant is the rapid decline of the deficit, as depicted by this graph from MaddowBlog‘s Steve Benen:

The deficit in Bush’s last fiscal year was $1.4 trillion. The deficit for President Obama’s fourth fiscal year as president will be around $800 billion.

The president hasn’t cut the deficit in half as he promised — but he’s come very close. In fact, the deficit has never fallen this quickly without triggering a recession.

The entire GOP argument for rapid austerity hinges on the American public believing that there has a been an “orgy” — nay, an “inferno!” — of spending under President Obama, when the opposite is true. He’s managed to reverse the policies of the Bush era and shrink the deficit by keeping the private sector creating jobs despite huge cuts to the public sector.

While 76 percent of Americans polled agree with President Obama that any deficit reduction must include both spending cuts and tax increases, only 6 percent are aware that the budget deficit is getting smaller.

How do you convince a wounded economy to slash itself with unnecessary budget cuts as millions look for work? Pretend the deficit is exploding when it’s actually shrinking. And for now, that strategy is working.

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