In fiscal year 2010, which was President Obama's first full fiscal year in office, the budget deficit was $1.3 trillion. In fiscal year 2013, the Congressional Budget Office projects it will be $845 billion. That's a 35 percent decrease in terms of dollars, and it's even bigger—41 percent—if you're tracking the deficit as a share of the GDP. The percentage drop is even bigger—roughly 50 percent—if you start from fiscal year 2009, which overlapped the final year of the Bush presidency and the first year of Obama's.
But when Bloomberg News commissioned a survey asking Americans whether they believed the budget deficit was growing or shrinking, just six percent answered the question correctly. Ninety-four percent had no clue. And 62 percent actually thought it was getting bigger.
So the next time you hear a poll about how Americans think it's important to shrink the budget deficit, keep in mind that 94 percent of us don't even know that it's getting smaller.