New Data Debunks Years Of Fox News Paranoia About The Federal Budget/Deficit

Treasury Data Show Federal Budget Deficit At Lowest Point Since 2007

A recent report from the Treasury Department and Office of Management and Budget shows that the federal budget deficit in the past fiscal year declined to its lowest point since 2007 and is now below the 40-year average of budget deficits as a percentage of GDP, debunking years of Fox News misinformation and fearmongering about ballooning federal budget deficits under the Obama administration.

U.S. Deficit Dropped As The Economy Improved

Treasury Department Reports Lowest Annual Deficit In Eight Years. On October 15, the Treasury Department released its annual statement on Fiscal Year 2015's budget expenditures and revenue. The report showed that the federal deficit has fallen to an eight-year low, totaling $439 billion, or 2.5 percent of GDP:

Total receipts, outlays and deficit [Department of the Treasury, 10/15/15]

WSJ: Deficit Falls Below 40-Year Average. On October 15, The Wall Street Journal reported on the Treasury's deficit numbers and noted that the deficit as a percentage of GDP is now below the average for the last 40 years, and has been consistently declining since 2009:

The budget shortfall fell to its lowest level since 2007 during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the Treasury Department said Thursday. The deficit declined 9% from the prior year to $439 billion--around 2.5% of gross domestic product and below the average the U.S. has run over the past 40 years.


WSJ graph of federal budget surplus and deficit over time [The Wall Street Journal, 10/15/15]

Fox Has Fixated On The Deficit Throughout Obama's Presidency

Fox Reported On Budget Deficit More Than Any Other Network. According to an August 2015 analysis by Media Matters, Fox News called for policies aimed at reducing the federal budget deficit and national debt more than all other networks combined by more than 10-fold in the first half of 2015:

Network coverage of deficit and debt [Media Matters, 8/31/15]

2015: Fox's Sean Hannity Claims Speaker Boehner Will Do “Maximum Damage” By Raising The Debt Ceiling. On the October 8 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, Fox host Sean Hannity claimed that outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) would cause “maximum damage” to the country by raising the debt ceiling before it is scheduled to lapse in early November:

SEAN HANNITY: By the way, we got more information. I just got it from Fox News, Boehner will stay on to handle the debt ceiling, the next [continuing resolution], the debt ceiling the hardest, it may pass only with 40 to 50 Republican votes and the rest Democrats. So Boehner is going to do as much maximum damage as he can on the way out. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 10/8/15]

2014: Fox Guest Claims Budget Deficit Is A Graver Threat Than Climate Change. On the February 12, 2014 edition of Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto, guest Dave Maney accused President Obama of focusing too little attention on deficit reduction during his presidency and fearmongered that ongoing fiscal deficits were a “grave threat to future generations” and a greater threat to the United States than global climate change:

NEIL CAVUTO: Dave, here we go again.

DAVE MANEY: Here we go again, Neil. This time, it's weirdly two things that are both future threats, right? It's-- we have the deficit on one side, which we can be pretty certain from history is a grave threat to future generations. On the other side we have this notion of global warming, or global climate change, depending on what day it is and what's going on in the weather forecast, which may be a threat and which may or may not be fixable, may not be alterable as to where it' staking us. What I find extremely frustrating is we've got a president who says, “well we are all over this threat even though we don't know if we can do anything about it. This one, which I could shut off the spigots on and fix in a moment, I am not doing anything about that I don't believe that is a real threat.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 2/14/14]

2013: Fox's Steve Doocy Botches Deficit Reduction Numbers. On the September 23, 2013 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy falsely claimed that the federal budget deficit had increased under Obama. The federal deficit actually decreased significantly from 2009 through 2013, even though the total outstanding national debt increased:

STEVE DOOCY: [Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)] also says the president has cut the deficit in half but, in fact, according to the CBO it's gone up 137 percent. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/23/13]

2012: Fox & Friends Ad Suggests Obama Is Responsible For Increase In Debt. On the May 30, 2012 edition of Fox & Friends, the network aired video clips of President Obama saying that he “pledge[d] to cut the deficit in half by the end of [his] first term in office” and that “all of us need to act more responsibly on behalf of a better economic future,” followed by a graphic showing the increase in federal debt over the course of the Obama administration. Despite Fox's misleading attempt to conflate the debt and deficit, the annual federal budget deficit was cut dramatically during Obama's first term, though the national debt also increased:

Fox screenshot debt then and now [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/30/12]

2011: Fox's Dick Morris Falsely Claims Obama “Created A Gigantic Deficit” To “Justify Tax Increases.” On the April 13, 2011 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, contributor Dick Morris claimed Obama “raised spending to the point where he created a gigantic deficit” so that the administration could justify increasing taxes:

BRIAN KILMEADE: President Obama will lay out his plan to cut the deficit, and he's going to do it this afternoon at George Washington University. And he wants to do it in part by raising taxes on those fortunate people who happen to earn a lot of money. But will that come with a price? Even his own party turning against him. Former advisor to President Clinton and the author of Revolt, Dick Morris, has now joined us. Dick, what should be in the president's speech today?

DICK MORRIS: Well, what should be in it is a variety of spending cuts akin to the [Rep. Paul] Ryan budget. What will be in it, I think, is a combination of some spending cuts or some fudging on entitlements and mainly tax increases. I wrote this in the book Revolt, and it's a very crucial point about Barack Obama. It's the most important point about his presidency. He is committed to expanding the size of government. Now, when he took office, he couldn't raise taxes because there was a recession, and even in his own party wouldn't have supported it. So he raised spending to a point where he created a gigantic deficit, the purpose of which was to justify tax increases, which would lock in a larger government. And that's -- the other shoe is going to drop tonight or this afternoon when he proposes these taxes. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/13/11]

2010: Fox's Glenn Beck Suggests Budget Deficit Is Part Of Strategy To “Collapse... Industrialized Civilization.” On the May 13, 2010 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, host Glenn Beck suggested that rising budget deficits were evidence of a leftist “Cloward-Piven” strategy to “collapse the industrialized civilization” in the United States. Beck claimed that the federal deficit was “four times more” than the deficit from the previous year without acknowledging the effect the recession had on automatic spending programs. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 5/13/10]

2009: Fox Falsely Blames President Obama For Tripling The Deficit. On October 8, 2009, Fox Nation posted an on-screen graphic of a picture of President Obama and the caption: “Obama Triples Budget Deficit To $1.4 Trillion,” linking to an Associated Press report about a new deficit prediction for the 2009 fiscal year. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had projected a $1.2 trillion deficit for the fiscal year in January 2009, due to spending signed into law during the Bush administration:

Fox Nation site image

[Media Matters, 10/9/9]