First of all, it's not true that if the deficit were lower the economy would get better .. I'm a ninny and even I can understand that when we stop spending, growth stops.
Deficits stimulate the economy in bad times. Problem is, from hearing voters talk about it on TV, they don't seem to know what the deficit is .. they don't know the difference between the deficit and the national debt.
They think - "I owe money, everybody I know owes money, and that's 'the deficit' .. or debt, because they're the same, right?"
It all plays into their idea that "lower taxes eliminates the deficit" .. that we'll all have more money when we pay less in taxes. Right? So the deficit will be lower, right?"
Wrong .. silly in fact.
BTW - I saw a CBS poll on TV the other day, asking Americans what they'd like to see Congress focus on next year. 56 percent said economy/jobs, 14 percent said healthcare .. then, the deficit, the wars, immigration, taxes, and education, were way down on the list, in low single digits.
We'll have to wait and see if the public gets its wish .. but I won't hold my breath. Growing the economy and creating jobs *should* be the focus, but Republicans, with their new House majority, have already made clear that their top priorities are gutting the healthcare system, protecting tax cuts for the wealthy, and reducing the deficit -- which go against what the American mainstream wants.
Has anyone pointed out that gutting healthcare and cutting taxes would only make the deficit much worse?
Ronald Reagan was the master of the modern deficit, but no one cared. Bill Clinton was the master of deficit reduction, but no one much cared about that, either .. and by the time he left office, much of the country didn't even realize he'd completely eliminated the deficit and had begun paying off the debt.
Then we get GWBush, the most fiscally irresponsible president in American history, adding $5 trillion to the debt.
BTW -- Obama has actually reduced the deficit over the last year, but don't hold your breath until you hear deficit hawks praise him for it.
You know, righties didn't much care about the deficit until they were told they should. Then, all of a sudden deficit panic grew and spread as they started echoing Tea Party leaders and rightie talk show hosts, who identified "the deficit" as a political weapon to use against Obama.
And it worked.
Because you had the swing voters -- the registered independents who really do swing back-and-forth between the parties -- pointing to the debt as a top worry, and their worries about the economy made them vulnerable to the GOP's doomsday warnings about runaway deficits.
Tea Partyers lump the budget deficit, the trade deficit, and the National Debt all together .. but these are all different things.
They think deficit means "wasteful spending on lazy moochers" .. that the government takes their money, which they worked hard for, and gives it to someone who hasn't worked as hard.
Notice how Tea Partyers never see themselves as the recipients or beneficiaries of the government's spending money -- they see "the deficit" as the unpaid tab for "welfare" or "socialism."
Again, voters don't seem to know what the deficit is .. its just something that's "bad." They only want the economy to grow, they want more jobs. If they really cared about deficit, they'd be outraged by the talk of new tax cuts. The economy can't grow in a vacuum.
Also, I remember several years ago when Alan Greenspan testified to Congress, under oath, that the entire debt owed by the US would be entirely paid off by 2007 if no tax cuts were passed.
Now look at us.
Oh yes, the National Debt is the total amount of money owed by the government .. the federal budget deficit is how much more we spent in a single year than we earned that year. Add up all the deficits (subtracting a few budget surpluses we've had) for the past 200-plus years and you'll get the current National Debt.
See, we've been deficit spending since 1791.