Poll: Most Americans think the budget deficit is rising, but it’s not


I think THIS is the result of both Republican demagoguery and public confusion:

The budget deficit is the lowest it has been since President Barack Obama took office, according to a Congressional Budget Office report this week. But don’t expect that to matter to the American people.

In fact, the deficit has been falling steadily since 2009. Yet a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows that Americans still think the deficit is going up and disapprove of Washington politicians accordingly.

According to the new poll, 54 percent of Americans think the budget deficit has increased since Obama took office in 2009, while only 19 percent know it has decreased. Fourteen percent think it has stayed the same since Obama became president.

People often conflate the deficit with the national debt, so the poll made sure to describe and ask about each. Because the government is still running deficits — though markedly smaller ones — the debt has increased throughout Obama’s presidency. The difference between those saying the deficit is rising and those who said the debt is increasing was small — with 62 percent of people saying the debt was expanding. Even with the clear description of the definition of the deficit, fewer than one in five correctly answered that it has shrunk under Obama.

But even members of the president’s own party don’t necessarily think the deficit has decreased. Only 30 percent of Democrats said the deficit had fallen — again, the correct answer. A combined 53 percent said the deficit had either stayed the same (21 percent) or risen (32 percent).

The poll was conducted before the Congressional Budget Office report, released Tuesday, said the deficit has decreased to $514 billion, the lowest since Obama took office in 2009.

Given that Americans don’t know the deficit is falling, it’s not surprising that they aren’t giving either Obama or congressional Republicans any love on the issue. Fifty-two percent said they disapproved and only 37 percent said they approved of the way the president is handling the deficit. By an even greater 68 percent to 21 percent margin, they also disapproved of congressional Republicans’ handling of the issue.



  1. If that’s the case, then why do the democrats in leadership positions let that perception become the talking point? Why are the democrats so bad/weak at messaging and taking control of the situation. You’d think the democrats would learn after how many decades now that staying on message works. Why do the dems let the repubs have the last say on public perceptions on everything?

    One more thing, an accountant for the city once told me you can make graphs and charts say anything you want them to.

  2. The CBO forecast or the current fiscal year is a budget deficit of $514 Billion. That’s still higher than the first 7 years of the Bush administration.

  3. Neftali: In the early years of the Bush administration, he was busy squandering the budget surplus he inherited from Clinton by cutting taxes while he was waging two wars.

    In the latter years of the Bush administration, he presided over a near-total collapse of the financial system, which precipitated big increases in budget deficits.

    The deficit has steadily been going down under Obama.

    • 1. There are many reasons for the collapse of the financial system, Democrats are far from blameless and you know it.

      2. While the wars did add to Bush’s deficits, they have little to do with Obama’s. Honestly, I give Bush’s last year and Obama’s first 2 years a pass on the budget crises. But we’re past that now. There is no reason for the current budget deficit to still be worse than Bush’s first 7 years.

  4. With a $16 TRILLION budget, why is there a deficit at all!!! Shame on you. And here you all go struttin around like a shrinking deficit is something to brag about. (Spinners)

  5. Tony P: A $16 trillion budget? Where did you get that nonsense? The real figure is about $3.7 trillion.

  6. I believe Tony P meant to say a 16 trillion dollar national debt.

    And Neftali nailed it with his last comment.

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