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

Memo Pad Politics

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.


  1. NefariousNewt February 24, 2013

    This what politics boils down to right now: perception vs. reality. The perception (GOP) that America is drowning in red ink, vs. the reality (Democrats) that the tide is receding and the economy is growing.

    The problem is this: appealing to what someone already believes will always be more powerful than appealing to people with facts. The Republicans know this; their who platform and publicity machine is predicated on the idea that if they can keep lying to their base, they can maintain a grip on power.

    Sadly, their base is now shrinking rapidly, and since they show no signs of tamping down their rhetoric, their chances of becoming more inclusionary are dwindling, Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal notwithstanding. Eventually, the truth catches up with the lies. Mitt Romney was the unfortunate victim of this — he could not lie his way out the fact that the economy has been making slow but steady progress, and his attempt to pivot toward President Obama at the last minute only showed that he was willing to sell his soul to become President, not that he actually had the ability to do the job.

    As these numbers go down, as the economy strengthens, as the President knocks the GOP down again and again over the sequester, the debt ceiling, gun control, LGBTQ rights, etc., the Republicans will be forced to watch their party sink slowly into the sunset.

    1. InsideEye February 25, 2013

      Is the deficit going down, because there is some restricted spending. It will rise again surely. The sequestration should help, should it not. Seems according to all that the 86 billion is only a fraction of cuts needed, and would hardly be noticeable since most of congress always allege that there is waste all over and THEY know how to find it and fix it. What is the truth? Was Bob Woodruff accurate in describing , that Obama as well as all of congress has agreed to the SEQUESTER CRISIS. THIS SEEMS TO BE JUST POLITICAL NONSENSE and posturing.

  2. Dominick Vila February 24, 2013

    The Federal government deficit is, indeed, shrinking rapidly as a result of the recent tax increases, as modest as they were, a drop in unemployment, an improved economy and increased consumer confidence. Considering the results of Republican policies, and their record of obstructionism, they now find themselves in an untenable position that is likely to have devastating consequences for the GOP in years to come. Instead of cooperating and taking credit for some of the improvements that are evident throughout the USA, they remain entrenched in the same obtuse claims that contributed to the 2012 GOP debacle. At this point, they have no choice but to advance the illusion that our economy is near collapse and that the future of the USA is in grave danger, to save themselves.
    I believe, however, that the administration should do a better job at publicizing the economic and fiscal improvements that are taking place, not only because of political considerations, but to further improve consumer confidence. The key is not austerity, the path forward is investment by both the public and private sectors.

    1. TheSkalawag929 February 25, 2013

      What can be made of a constituency that can be convinced that they are in dire straits despite all the evidence to the contrary?

      What argument can you make that will change the mind of a party that espouses government is at the heart of all its problems and yet demands that that same government fix all of its problems?

      Keep in mind that these are the same people that time after time elect people to office as fiscal conservatives but govern as social conservatives. People who are more concerned with controlling women’s bodies and suppressing the rights of others than they are about job growth and the welfare of their state or the country. They are duped over and over but they don’t learn anything from the experience. If anything they pull even harder to the right.

      Fortunately we have a President that so far has been able to navigate these treacherous waters.

  3. idamag February 24, 2013

    I would have never believed that the Republican Party would turn into what it has. It has become synomenous with lying. Prosperity is reciprical. Each faction of society needs to be doing well in order to support the other factions of society. When one group begins to take too much money out of circulation, all the other factions start to fail.

    When the jobs go overseas, we lose taxpayers and consumers.

    1. Dominick Vila February 25, 2013

      The Tea Party has transformed the GOP to the point that they no longer have anything in common with the old Republican party of yesteryear. This is no longer the party of social and fiscal conservatism, it is now the party of intolerance, hatred, greed, and obstructionism. A party determined to do everything they can to project an illusion of widespread missery at a time when every adult American can see new construction in their neighborhoods, houses selling, hiring signs in stores and restaurants, booked cruises, new cars in driveways, read about the DOW being at 14,000 points (more than doubled what it was when President Obama was first inaugurated in January 2009). Their strategy, which failed miserably in 2012, is focused on the need to convince fellow Americans that what they see or are experiencing is not real, and that economic Armagheddon is around the corner as a result of Obama’s policies. They are not pursuing that tactic because they are dumb, they are doing it because they think we are dumb, and hope against all logic that we will take the bait, the way we did when W sold us a bill of goods to justify the invasion of Iraq or try, once again, the trickle down economics and deregulation chimera.

      1. Rvn_sgt6768 February 25, 2013

        I believe it is more accurate to say John Birch Society than Tea Party based on what they believe and how they act and what they wish to accomplish in America. Putting lipstick on a pig does not change what it is.

        1. EdTyler February 13, 2014

          I can see you have never been anywhere near a Tea Party Rally.

      2. EdTyler February 13, 2014

        The Government cannot keep borrowing. Just like you. There comes a time when it can’t all be paid back……

  4. clarenceswinney February 24, 2013

    2000 to 2008 (% GDP)
    Spending—Plus 33%=two wars Part D Medicare
    Revenue—Minus 29%=two tax cuts
    This is why in 8 Bush increased Spending by 90% and Debt by 112%
    The rich got much richer as they were not hit with needed taxes to pay our way.
    That is why we rank #4 on Inequality in OECD nations
    From 2000-2013 , we borrowed 10,600 Billion.
    We had the income (14.000B per year) to pay our way.
    Yet! Republicans still refuse to make the rich pay their Fair Share.
    The day of reckoning is ahead. We must tax wealth. They have most of it.
    In 2009, 137M tax returns were taxed at 10.06% tax rate.
    We must tax wealth. Plus slow spending on Defense and Medicare.

  5. Lynda February 24, 2013

    Unfortunately math is not a strong point for far too many of our fellow citizens. The numbers are clear, but the perception of their meaning is clouded in doubt and deceit.

  6. charleo1 February 24, 2013

    If one wanted to start a knock down, drag out, brawl with the Republican base, just try telling
    them Barack Obama is not the most prolific spender of money we don’t have, on people that
    don’t deserve it, to ever become POTUS. For one thing, they will tell you, Democrats
    are the Party of tax, and spend. Everybody knows that! And Secondly, Barack Obama is the
    most radical Left Wing Socialist ever elected. And everybody knew he was going to break the
    bank, handing out food stamps, cell phones, and welfare cash, to his base of illegal aliens,
    and the other assortment of parasites, and bleeding heart Liberals, that never tire of spending
    other people’s money. Those charts put out by the lying Liberal Press, that have been in the tank
    for Obama, since he was a community organizer palling around with terrorists. Is that what you
    expect us to believe? What they don’t tell you is a story I read on Breitbart. Com, about the printing
    presses over at the treasury, blowing up, and catching fire, trying to keep up with Obama’s spending! At least I have found it to be an exercise in futility.

    1. latebloomingrandma February 25, 2013

      You have captured the story perfectly. These points come out of the mouths of all the right wing conservatives where I live in PA. They all have their message down pat. Kind of spooky, in a brainwashing sort of way.

      1. charleo1 February 25, 2013

        I have found, in many cases, people listening to the Conservative’s side of media, are unable to explain the reason, or reasons they have come to hold the opinions they do. When they will converse, it usually comes down to them holding a completely
        different set of facts. So, I figure maybe I can unravel a bit of the misinformation on some
        of the general misconceptions. Like, President Obama is this radical Socialist. Think,
        Che Guevara, or Fidel Castro. And one of these days, he’s going to start redistributing,
        and there goes the family business. But first, he’ll need your guns! Right? And I wonder,
        where do they get this stuff? Because, if that’s what you believe Obama is all about, you’re
        not going to agree with him on anything. And you’re not going to have a civil conversation
        with anyone else that does either. And, it’s not talked about a great deal, but I worry about
        his safety, and the safety of his family. I urge you, and others to visit some of these extreme
        websites. They all contain links to each other, and of course Fox, and conservative talk
        radio, which peruses sites like breitbart, red state, or the drudge report, for nuggets of
        opinion that could be entirely false, or based on subjective conclusion, but they feel bolsters
        a theme they are pushing. So, the successful ones get fed through the mega bullhorn, of 24/7 cable. “news.” Starting with Fox. But eventually all will mention it. Some to discount it. But it is mentioned, and sometimes debated at length. Because they all need to fill in
        the all day, every day, news that is hardly news by any standard. But, it’s a win win for all.
        except for the truth. The website gets a bump, and millions of Americans that truly do love this Country, get fed, well, let’s just call it what it is, propaganda. Now I know from experience they will say, listen to MSNBC. Liberals like Chris Matthews, or Rachel Maddow have their shows. What’s the difference? The glaring difference is MSNBC, CNN, CBS, and NBC News, cover the generic news, and not just stories that fit a theme Roger Alles, or Rupert Murdoch, happen to be selling this week. Remember the picture of the New Black Panthers, Fox ran in a loop for months, in 2008, and 2009? What Fox never told it’s viewers is that, this was taken outside one, predominately Black precinct of Philadelphia. It was not something Barack Obama had anything to do with. But, the piece was presented as a question. Which is usual for Fox. Were White voters intimidated at this Philadelphia
        polling place? By the way, they didn’t actually find any White voters at this polling place.
        But the point was to run the picture, over, and over. Because the larger goal of Fox was to
        delegitimize the Obama Presidency in the minds of their White, older, core audience.

        1. InsideEye February 25, 2013

          With all due respect, Fox News is only Shepard Smith, the rest is opinion….MSNBC is certainly opinions/conversations, and talking points are very evident when listening to NBC, CBS, ABC…NEWS?…Did you see the clip where a woman in Chicago admitted voting twice and she though that it was OK….There are many miscues that are interesting to put out there on all sides. ?

  7. agnessue February 24, 2013

    The Republicans are still pissed that the United States of America had the nerve to elect a Black man as President. They refuse to acknowledge that one fact and it has blinded them to everything else. It will never matter to them that the state of the economy has improved soley because of that. He can take one of their proposals for anything and they will disagree. This is so sad and so destructive.

    1. charleo1 February 24, 2013

      Oh, I think you have committed a horrible truth telling Sir! Would Republicans, former
      Southern Democrats, who’s political stronghold looks as much like a map of the old
      Confederacy, as Senator Tom Coburn looks like Robert E. Lee. And uses entertainers like
      Hank Williams Jr. who sings songs like, “If the South Woulda Won, We’da Had It Made.”
      Or, runs for President Governors like Rick Perry, who writes books like “Fed Up!” and loves to talk about secession? Naaw. You’re probably just imagining things.

      1. english_teacher February 25, 2013

        Good comment but, just guessing from the name, I think Agnessue is a woman.

        1. charleo1 February 25, 2013

          You’re probably right! My apologies to the commenter. And thanks
          to you for correcting me on her behalf.

    2. InsideEye February 25, 2013

      All Blacks and a good number of whites also voted for Obama. Racism is over. Harry Reid noted that perhaps Obama was not black enough to get elected, Obama is tricolor at best/ worse?. I know absolutely that the so called hatred of Obama is all related to policy and nothing else. There are RARE but noosy zealots on both sides that keep the media happy by fomenting this non- news.

      1. charleo1 February 25, 2013

        And you know racism is over because you are an African-American, or Mexican
        American? Listening to Right Wingers call President Obama, “The Food Stamp
        President,” is because it relates to his policy on Food Stamps? Explain then, since
        President Obama has not changed the policy on Food Stamps from the previous
        Administration’s. Do you recall President Bush being called, “The Food Stamp
        President?” I don’t. Do you consider Limbaugh’s playing on the national airwaves,
        “Barack The Magic Negro,” sang to the tune of, “Puff The Magic Dragon,” racial?
        I do. Or, what policy of President Obama’s, specifically, was the song referring to?
        Or, which policy was it that President Obama endorsed, that made in necessary
        for him to prove his citizenship not once, but three separate times, as an American,
        qualified to serve in the office, to which he had been legitimately elected? I don’t
        recall another President at any time in the history of our Nation, to face such an
        issue. Do you? Or, do you see it as a case of Hawaii not being a part of the lower
        48, and only gaining statehood in 1959. But, there wasn’t any issue of the like
        concerning Sarah Palin, in her bid for the Vice Presidency, which also carries
        the requirement of native birth. So again, what policy do you suppose caused the
        way these two candidates for high office, came to be treated in such different ways?

        1. InsideEye February 25, 2013

          Policy Differences and the method of attaining the goals intended,
          – Food Stamp, certainly for all who need it…not for the rest of your life. Ene the Bible states “Get off your Butt” or no mercy…paraphrase

          – Puff and magically you get it….some O’ supporters surveyed noted that now all will be well , free phone ? welfare and homes for free….supporters of Obama , well documented that POTUS will be there with all of your needs taken care of….meaning African Americans thinking Now we will get ours…..documented and shocking, Citizenship was a question to be asked considering the background noise on authenticity and ready availability of documents, three times fooled shame on me perhaps. Was Sarah Palin born in US ? Idaho, I think…must have been checked…I am sure. You can not tell me that Sarah Palin had a love affair with the Press ?

          I believe that his Chicago associations , mentioned many times and his overall policies are against founding principles for some. The Country is split 49/49 (+/-) other voters who may swing for a particular issue or another. Most are for Abortion, Gay pregnancy rights even and against ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. No racism mentioned. I live very inter /intra- racially.

          1. Kobie April 12, 2013


    3. Countrybumpkin February 25, 2013

      With the exception of “RED STATES”, most Republicans are not so much angry at a “black President”, but they a r e angry that Democrats have a g a i n produced an immensely capable President, who is making THEIR return to p o w e r very difficult.

    4. kdisg February 26, 2013

      Obama spent less every year he has been in power than BUSH ever did, but the gop still tell the BULLS_T story making it look like Obama exploded the government BUT the actual numbers show Obama curbed spending better than any president since the 40’s, thats fact and public record. I agree with everything you said my friend. UN-AMERICAN is the way the gop has behaved over the last 4 years and we NEED to remember that next election day and get as many of the gop out of congress so maybe we canget a little done anyway.

  8. MARK February 25, 2013

    If the gop really wanted to fix itself,they would concentrate on thier blatant racism.The hate existing within racism has always,does now,and always will overide the practitioners common sense.Without a basic and fundamental opening of thier hearts thier only and ultimate option is self destruction.

  9. Lovefacts February 25, 2013

    The federal deficit would fall even faster if we got rid of two of the most costly programs–corporate welfare and tax deductions/deferrals that only benefit the wealthy.

  10. appraiserman February 26, 2013

    You libtards and Obummer base the calculations on the Obummer PROJECTED results. His PROJECTED results and the ACTUAL results have never even been close. He has only made one BUDGET since he took office, despite the LAW. Don’t worry, the laws of economics will catch up at some point, and I believe that will be when the back end loaded Obamacare hits the American taxpayer in the nose. Just because Obummer said it will be “FREE”, does not make it true. Sorry folks, Palin was correct, say hello to the DEATH PANELS as they will decide your fate.

    1. EdG1955 February 26, 2013

      Wow, PEOPLE who TYPE in CAPS are REALLY smart, AREN’T they?

    2. Steve Wykle February 26, 2013

      Obama has presented a budget to Congress each and every year he has been in office. The problem is, CONGRESS hasn’t passed any of his budgets, mainly becasue of Republican obstructionism. Don’t blame Obama, put the blame where it belongs….with Congress.

  11. Cora O. McWilliams January 10, 2014

    What’s up to every one, the contents existing at this website are truly remarkable for people knowledge,
    well, keep up the good work fellows.

  12. EdTyler February 13, 2014

    Why is the deficit shrinking?
    There is less Government spending.
    Why is there less government spending?
    The House of Representatives controls the purse strings.

    Now, you can try to tell us how the President is responsible but in truth, he isn’t.


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