Poll: 90% of Americans Mistakenly Believe the Deficit Is Rising Or Flat – Just 6% Know It Is Actually Shrinking

A Bloomberg poll released last week found that 90 percent of Americans hold the mistaken view that the U.S. deficit is rising or staying the same, when in fact it has been shrinking at a rapid pace since Pres. Obama took office.

Misunderstood Deficit: [The] size and trajectory of the U.S. deficit is poorly understood by most Americans, with 62 percent saying it’s getting bigger, 28 percent saying it’s staying about the same this year, and just 6 percent saying it’s shrinking. The Congressional Budget Office reported Feb. 6 that the federal budget deficit is getting smaller, falling to $845 billion this year — the first time in five years that the gap between taxes and spending will be less than $1 trillion.

Americans also have a skewed picture of what drives federal spending.

At least half correctly pegged defense programs, Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid — both of which comprise about one fifth of the federal budget — as accounting for at least 20 percent of federal spending. Yet almost a third of respondents say the same about education — which actually comprises 2 percent of the budget — and foreign aid — which registers at just 1 percent of federal spending. Almost 40 percent of respondents say the social safety net, including food stamps and jobless benefits, make up at least a fifth of the federal budget; in fact, such programs amount to about 13 percent of total spending.

Here is the pertinent section from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report from Feb. 5, 2013:

If the current laws that govern federal taxes and spending do not change, the budget deficit will shrink this year to $845 billion, or 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), its smallest size since 2008.

Blame for these skewed perceptions about the deficit rests solely with the media. It’s clear why Fox would obfuscate these numbers. As the GOP’s in-house propaganda network, it’s Fox’s job to awfulize the economy so that voters will reject the policies of the president and his party and vote for Republicans — just as it did in 2010 when it supported the tea party campaign in the midterms by promoting lies about Obamacare’s socialist death panels and the rest.

But the terrible job that corporate outlets — the so-called “liberal medial” — have done reporting on this issue amounts to journalistic malpractice.

Hat tip: TRMS 2-26-13

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