In a recent poll, Americans were asked whether they thought the deficit had decreased or increased since Obama took office in 2009. 54% of Americans thought in increased and a mere 19% thought it decreased. Even a plurality of Democrats (32%) thought it increased with 21% thinking it stayed the same and 30% thinking it dropped. Perhaps this accounts for the majority disapproving of how Obama handled the deficit.
However, the deficit has indeed dropped not risen — and dropped substantially. In 2009, it stood at $1.4 trillion and 9.8% of GDP. In 2013, in 2009 dollars, it had shrunk to $680 billion or 4.1% of GDP. This year it is projected to be lower still. At $486 billion, it’s the lowest it’s been since 2008.
How about health insurance? Health insurance premiums have tended to rise every year. In the period 2004 to 2009, they rose 34%, i.e., 6% per year. In the period 2009 to 2014 that fell to 26%. In 2013, the increase was only 3% for families and 2% for individuals. This is a significant improvement. Nonetheless polling from back in May by Gallup shows Americans disapprove of the ACA by a 51% to 43% margin. So even though it shows signs of reining in costs and has clearly widened coverage, a majority disapproves of it. This month, Gallup found that 27% of Americans thought the ACA had hurt them and 16% thought it helped them. They also found Americans expected the ACA to make things worse over the long term by a 46% to 36% margin. (This margin has remained stable going back at least to June 2013.)
This suggests that Democrats are — as usual — doing a terrible job of running on the issues. If majorities of Americans think that the ACA has worsened healthcare and Obama has worsened the budget, someone at the Democratic National Committee is not doing his or her job.