By Lynn Stuart Parramore
Remember all those deficit hawks who screamed that the federal deficit is spiraling out of control and must be stopped with spending cuts that have a funny way of hurting the pocketbooks of the most vulnerable Americans? Their excuse for ripping us off has been literally disappearing, but a new Google survey shows that not only do the vast majority Americans not know it — half of the public actually believes that the deficit is growing.
Here are the facts: The U.S. budget deficit has been shrinking at a rapid rate over the last few months. The deficit peaked at 10.2 percent of GDP in 2009, but over the past four quarters, it has shrunk to a mere 4.2 percent of GDP. What’s more, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that the deficit will fall to 2.1 percent of GDP in 2015.
Why such a disconnect? Unfortunately, disgraceful propaganda has left the public misinformed and confused.
Over in Economic Wonderland, the deficit hawk duo of Alan Simpson and Erksine Bowles have made a second career over the last several years wildly exaggerating the deficit issue and scaring Americans into thinking that deep cuts in the federal budget were necessary for the economy. The reality was just the opposite. If these two had ever sat down to read John Maynard Keynes, whose work is vital to understanding how to respond to economic crises, they would have known that cutting the federal budget when the economy is weak actually slows it down even more. Yet to this day, Simpson and Bowles continue waging battle for a “grand bargain” that would shred the social safety net and cost many Americans their jobs by requiring trillions of dollars to be cut from the federal budget over ten years. All in the name of a “problem” that doesn’t even exist.