Down is Up

The vast majority of Americans believe that the deficit has soared in the Obama era. Late last year, a Bloomberg Politics Poll found that 73% of the public believes the deficit has gotten bigger over the last six years. (This belief appears to be founded in equal parts upon a campaign of intentional disinformation and a conviction among rightwing conservatives that Obama is the AntiChrist determined to destroy America.)

The latest Congressional Budget Office projections tell a rather different story:

The budget deficit for 2015 is expected to drop to roughly $425 billion, according to a report released Friday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

That’s down from the $486 billion the CBO projected in March. If it drops to $425 billion by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, it would be a seven-year low for the government’s annual budget shortfalls.

Another Bloomberg poll found that only 6% of Americans are aware that the deficit is shrinking. So 94% of Americans are totally unaware that we have seen a $1 trillion dollar– that’s trillion with a “t” – deficit reduction since Obama took office.

As Steve Benen has written, this seems like the sort of development Tea Partiers and the Beltway’s Very Serious People should consider an extraordinary accomplishment. And I’m sure they would–If anyone other than Obama had accomplished it.


  1. Sheila; the only fault I can find with your daily blogs is that they are not published nationally. You provide so many actual facts and sources for us to research, as the basis for your information. This is sadly lacking in the general media disbursement of gossipy, talking heads news reports. You quote your sources; they sometimes name their “source”; usually one of the Republicans who oppose even President Obama’s intake of oxygen.

    I try to research several trusted sources, such as actual government reports, for information. Trump is becoming more frightening; who would want him on their jury for any offense. Hope the defendant isn’t a Democrat. I feel we are under siege, like Atlanta during the Civil War, and we are in the direct path of Trump’s march to the sea – the “sea” in this case being the White House. The only financial reports decimated by him are his personal holdings; impressive but questionable and of no use regarding his lack of qualifications to take over this country. I haven’t been questioned by any of these polls but have tried to keep up with actual figures and I continue to find is an upward swing regarding general conditions in this country as your blog states today. Facts and figures ignored, covered up or overlooked by the Republican candidates and not referred to often enough by Hillary or Bernie. They need to use your stated factual figures as the basis of their intent to continue what President Obama has begun – against odds never before faced by any president. That he is still alive is an accomplishment and testament to his determination to lead us forward till his last day in office.

  2. This goes back to talking heads, total disregard for facts. People believe what their sources tell them and ignore the rest. I don’t know how we get past these times.

  3. I think that much of the criticism of Obama over monetary issues is the natural outcome of pundits and politicians alike not knowing the difference between “deficit” and “debt”. I would love to hear a discussion of the national debt. For one thing, just how much debt can this country carry when we import more than we export?

  4. Challenge – send Sheila’s blog to 10 friends and acquaintances.

    JoAnn is correct that your blog should be national, and it IS. I’ve shared it with friends all over the country – and one in Australia – as well as some local and national journalists and e-newsletter producers. The friends report their delight in reading and sharing it further. If we all encourage 10 friends and acquaintances to sign up, Sheila’s circulation will rival that of the Indpls. STAR.

  5. Some of the explanation is that folks don’t distinguish between deficit and debt.

    In 2001 the CBO published a paper that said that if Clinton’s fiscal policies were carried forward we’d be debt free by 2006, and have a multi trillion $ surplus by 2011. Of course that advice was ignored. Cheney reduced taxes for everyone but primarily the wealthy, declared two holy wars, and prompted Greenspan to fire up the booming economy by record low interest rates to pay for war and wealth.

    By the time Bush slinked away those policies had America fully in their grip. Obama backed away at all deliberate speed. That is the entire explanation of 100% of the current debt. Obama’s policies have stabilized our downfall. Now his policies are what need to be continued.

    Of course the Great Oligarchy Plot embarrassed by their results relied on brainwashing to cover their tracks. Successfully.

    That’s the key word. We were victimized.

    So what’s done is done. Our only hope is democracy to accept reality from the past and change the future for better results. That’s the threat that’s driving the oligarchs today. Their wealth increased at the expense of every else by conservative policies. They are addicted now on the most compelling drug they know. Not wealth as much as income inequality. Autocracy. Royalty. Anti-democracy. Power.

    So we’re charged with restoring democracy. Despite the proven success of brainwashing represented here daily by Gopper.

    Let’s do it.

  6. I don’t do it every day, but I often share your blogs on Facebook, just to wiggle my finger (so to speak) in the faces of my conservative and Tea Party friends. I don’t know if they read it; I do know of several of my progressive friends who not only read, but comment. You always seem to have a sane and sensible thing or two to say. Keep up the good work. And vote Blue!! (As if I thought you wouldn’t!!).

  7. MJane makes a relevant comment today when she writes, “People believe what their sources tell them and ignore the rest. I don’t know how we get past these times.”

    I suggest we’ll get past these times for better or worse; however, I also suggest a revisit to Dr. Kennedy’s 7/31/15 post, “Putting Our Money Where Our Mouths Are…”.

    If the alumni of the IU School of Dentistry can donate $4M to kick-start the IU Trustees’ recent approval of a $21M+ expansion of the dental school’s presence here in Indianapolis, I’d expect the engaged citizenry of Indiana and beyond could also donate, according to their pocketbooks, a smaller sum of money to keep the Center for Civic Literacy at IUPUI up and running.

  8. Not so fast, folks. A couple of points.

    These numbers are from the CBO, and indeed project a budget deficit of some $476b this fiscal year. The same CBO then projects that the deficit will begin to rise again next year (as the President is leaving office) until it reaches over $1 TRILLION in fiscal 2023 alone.

    A 2nd point is that federal spending has gone up, not down under this administration. On the other hand, it’s been all over the news that the Feds are enjoying record tax revenues from us this year.

  9. Rick; this may be my personal simplistic thinking on your statements but…not only has federal spending gone up, so has my spending for food, utilities, clothing, medical bills, et al. This is the progression of today’s economics; rising costs on everything for everyone – including the government. Regarding federal tax revenues going up; the job market has improved a great deal, more jobs means more salaries and more taxes taken out of these salaries. Simplistic thinking but not simple-minded figuring; just the facts, man. Next year prices of everything will continue to go up; but will my Social Security check cover the increases or will my deficit rise along with my debts?

  10. This is what the CBO says about the Federal deficit.

    “The federal budget deficit, which has fallen sharply during the past few years, is projected to hold steady relative to the size of the economy through 2018. Beyond that point, however, the gap between spending and revenues is projected to grow, further increasing federal debt relative to the size of the economy—which is already historically high.”

    “Those projections by CBO, based on the assumption that current laws governing taxes and spending will generally remain unchanged, are built upon the agency’s economic forecast. According to that forecast, the economy will expand at a solid pace in 2015 and for the next few years—to the point that the gap between the nation’s output and its potential (that is, maximum sustainable) output will be essentially eliminated by the end of 2017. As a result, the unemployment rate will fall a little further, and more people will be encouraged to enter or stay in the labor force. Beyond 2017, CBO projects, real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) will grow at a rate that is notably less than the average growth during the 1980s and 1990s.”

  11. One of the delusions used to brainwash us is that the deficit/debt is primarily a function of government spending when in fact it’s primarily a function of the economy which is not really under government control but business control.

    In fact reducing government spending virtually always cools the economy.

    We are approaching of course limits that are not sustainable by anybody, government or business, like energy availability.

    New thinking required.

  12. The deficit has been falling which means the debt is still rising, but more slowly than before. No one knows how large (relative to GDP) the debt can be before an economy collapses. Civic engagement is not a substitute for minimal economic understanding. It might be dangerous to us all.

  13. Funny isn’t it, how the GOP can’t help repeating themselves about the Democrats’ government spending and tax increases, and whining about the deficit, like a broken record? But if you look at the actual ‘Record’, you’ll see that Bill Clinton took the country from a record deficit, thank Bush Senior for that, to a record surplus! Of course, eight years of Dubya in power took that right back to a huge deficit, to pay for his and Cheney’s (Halliburton’s!) war in Iraq, and the so-called War on Terror. What will happen if the GOP get back in the White House? Another record deficit would be a pretty safe bet, I think.

  14. You think correctly, Paul. Look at every fortune made in the last century. All were enabled by collusion with the government, local, state or federal.

    Coal miners slaughtered in 1906 when over a millions rounds were fired. Same thing during textile strike of 1912. Stand up to business and the 101st Airborne will visit.

  15. JoAnn – thank you for your comment. Good point, although federal spending over the past 6 years has gone up by a considerably higher percentage than your spending or mine. Second, don’t forget my first point above. We have a pending budgetary deficit time bomb. Nonetheless, I sincerely appreciate that you disagreed with me without questioning my intelligence or sanity. By contrast, Kirsten Powers’ new book “The Silencing …” is a painful recounting of the loss of civility in public discourse and is a must read for all.

    Pete – if the economy is not under gov’t control, can we stop blaming Bush for the 2008 meltdown? There are plenty of other disasters for which we can legitimately blame him.

  16. It is I believe pretty well accepted that the Great Recession was a product of two forces. Cheney/Greenspan’s over stimulation of an already growing too fast economy by their record low interest rates and Wall Sts underegulated mortgage selling leveraged by derivative financing. Much of Obama’s deficit was necessary to stimulate the crashed economy back to health. That’s all in addition to the holy wars and tax cuts for the wealthy. All just indisputable evidence that fiscal conservatism, or what passes for that, is delusional wealth distribution up that the realities of economics just do not support. It just doesn’t work to any country’s economic benefit from anyone’s perspective but those for which all that’s left to want is more power.

  17. @Paul Walmark quote: ” What will happen if the GOP get back in the White House? Another record deficit would be a pretty safe bet, I think.”

    …and also more wars in places yet to be named – wars used by the GOP to further enrich themselves…the likes of Haliburton are waiting in line for the next Republican president. Marco Rubio, the would-be Battista, is rattling his saber in every campaign speech. Jeb Bush is ramping up his rhetoric. Mamma Bush must be on Jeb’s ass for being too mild. They’re all trashing Obama for his restraint while they pretend to ooze GOP testosterone.

  18. This is incredible! POTUS TRIPLED the deficit with his first year in office and now wants full credit for FINALLY gets back down to the deficit spending of Bush43 (which candidate Obama said was unpatriotic) and wants credit for reducing the deficits he created!!! Talk about misleading “reporting””!!!

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