It's sometimes difficult to tell whether it's the American people who are stupid about the deficit, or if it's the Republicans whose well-financed disinformation campaigns have deliberately tricked the American people into not knowing what the hell is going on with the deficit.
I tend to believe it all comes down to gullibility and laziness, especially given the almost universal access to resources like the Congressional Budget Office website as well as, you know, Google. Gullibility and laziness also explains how the GOP, an opposition party in disarray, could possibility get the upper hand on the White House by convincing enough Americans that the deficit has gone up when, in fact, it's gone down by record numbers.
A new Bloomberg Politics poll indicates that a soul-crushing number of Americans are totally clueless about status of the deficit under President Obama.
“A quick question about the deficit – which is the difference between what the federal government spends and what it takes in in taxes and other revenue each year. Over the last six years, do you think the deficit has been getting bigger or smaller?”
Not sure: 6%
Yes, 73 percent of Americans think the deficit has grown under Obama, even though when all is said and done, it's gone down by more than a trillion dollars. Hell, the pollsters even explained what the deficit is, and they still didn't get it.
Indeed, the deficit stood at $1.4 trillion by late 2009 as a consequence of George W. Bush's authorization of that year's spending, which occurs the October before the end of the year. In other words, Bush approved $1.2 trillion of 2009's deficit spending in October, 2008. The balance, $200 billion, was Obama's responsibility. Nevertheless, in the years since, Obama has presided over the reduction of the deficit down to $400 billion. That's the biggest cumulative reduction of deficit in American history.
And no one knows.
Too many people are dumbstupids. That's the main thing. And the GOP has seized upon the less-than-informed status of the American people by deliberately confusing them. The game goes like this: conflate the deficit, which has gone down, with the national debt, which has gone up. The GOP, along with its accomplices at Fox News and AM talk radio, has successfully convinced people that the debt and the deficit are interchangeable.
Until Obama was elected, no one really harped on the national debt. But when the deficit began to drop, the disinformation campaign began. It hit its high water mark in 2012 when the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, routinely mixed up the deficit and the debt.
While campaigning in Arizona, Mitt Romney attacked the president on this topic with a whopper lie: "He said he'd cut the deficit in half. He's doubled it. He's doubled it."
Mitt Romney actually said that. Well, no, the president hadn't cut the deficit in half by May, 2012. But he absolutely didn't double it, either. Obviously. Romney lied again. Obama, in fact, cut the deficit in half by the early part of his second term. Romney was referring to the national debt -- which hasn't doubled either.
I suspect that even if we showed actual CBO projections to the Fox News cultists, they'd insist that the nonpartisan office cooked the books for Obama. Even if you send them an email with this link from Fox Business, they'll become instantly dismayed and pissed off -- believing you're employing a Jedi mind trick of some sort. So, no, it probably won't help to educate them on what's really happening. Exactly none of the events that occur outside the bubble are trustworthy, according to the brainwashed bubble-dwellers.
If the deficit drops in the woods, and no one knows about it, does it make a sound? The sad fact remains that one of Obama's most astounding dual successes -- spending enough to rescue the economy, then trimming spending where necessary -- is an almost unknown chunk of his legacy.
It's also worth noting, as Steve Benen pointed out, Bloomberg asked the following question: “On immigration, do you think the Obama administration has sent more or fewer undocumented immigrants back to their home countries, compared to ten years ago?” Benen:
By a nearly two-to-one margin, a majority of Americans believe Obama has deported fewer undocumented immigrants. The truth is the exact opposite.
This is how off-the-rails we are as a society. And the GOP is cynically exploiting the ignorance of the people, even though "the ignorance of the people" shouldn't exist in an age when we all have access to a world of information inside our pockets and purses. It's this ignorance that gives us Trump and Ted Cruz. It's what makes Fox News the number one cable news network. And, ultimately, it's why we can't have nice things.