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Fewer people are talking about the deficit, data shows

According to data analysis performed by staffers at FiveThirtyEight, talk of the federal budget deficit - or the difference between how much money the government collects and spends in one year - has dropped drastically over the course of President Barack Obama's second term in office. This is especially surprising considering that the deficit was a key concern for many voters during the last presidential race. In 2012, 44 percent of Americans said it was their top election issue, reported Gallup. Today, however, politicians and voters seem to have put a pause on debt talk.  

Republican candidates, politicians avoid deficit mentions
During each of the recent GOP debates, the word "deficit" was mentioned an average of 2 times per event. In 2012, candidates and moderators used the term 3.5 times per event. According to The Wall Street Journal, many of the current Republican candidates promote tax plans that explicitly add money to the deficit, a fact that likely contributes to this drop in debt-related rhetoric. Conversely, Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, pitched a "deficit-neutral" tax plan during his bid for the White House.

Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives are also cutting back on their deficit mentions. The Congressional Record shows that conservative Congressmen and Congresswomen mentioned the word "deficit" a mere 1,543 times in 2015. During the debt-ceiling crisis in August 2011, Republican House members used the word over 8000 times.

Public interest in the US deficit down, too
The American public has also lost interest in the deficit. The number of Google searches involving the U.S. deficit declined sharply after the country overcame another debt-ceiling standoff in October 2013. The crisis ultimately caused a government shutdown and damaged the Republican Party's reputation, reported The Washington Post. According to Standard and Poor's, the shutdown cost the country $24 billion.

At the time of the 2013 debt-ceiling crisis, only 12 percent of Americans said the deficit was the most important problem facing the country, reported Gallup. That number has since dropped to 5 percent.

Understanding the deficit
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the budget deficit for the U.S. in 2015 amounted to $426 billion, or 2.2 percent of country's gross domestic product. During the first year of Obama's presidency, the deficit amounted to $1.4 trillion, or 9.8 percent of the GDP, reported Politifact. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the $793 billion economic stimulus bill that helped reinvigorate the U.S. economy after the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, added a total of $814 billion to the deficit, including $185 billion in 2009 alone. According to The Times, $697 billion of the stimulus package had made its way back into the economy by 2011, meaning the bill's long-term impact on the deficit was nearly negligible after that date.

In his final State of the Union address earlier this month, President Obama championed his administration's deficit-cutting ways, reported NPR. However, according to a poll conducted by Bloomberg, 73 percent of Americans believe the deficit has grown under the president's watch.


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