Totally F%$#ing Evil

The Trump administration’s plan to reduce poverty in the United States is to redefine poverty so far down that starvation won’t count as poverty:

In early May, the Office of Management and Budget announced that it was seeking public comments on a proposal to change how inflation and the consumer price index are calculated, and, by extension, how poverty rates in the United States are estimated.


Now, however, the Trump administration looks set to head off in the exact opposite direction. It has come up with a proposal to measure inflation by a “chained consumer price index,” which will most likely take millions of people who were previously considered by the government to be living in poverty, and declare that suddenly, magically, they are no longer poor.

The chained consumer price index is a particularly cautious way of measuring inflation: On a monthly basis, it tries to factor in how people change their consumption patterns in response to price spikes or changes in technology. If, for example, car prices significantly increased, but in response, vastly more people used public transport and thus weren’t as impacted by the industry-specific inflation, it would factor that in and reduce the price increase’s overall impact on the inflation rate.

In theory, that’s all well and good — except for the fact that poor people tend to be less flexible in their spending patterns than more affluent Americans. In recent years, economists have found that poor people actually experience higher rates of inflation than do those with more disposable income. If gas prices go up, for example, a middle-class American might choose to counter that impact by purchasing a hybrid or electric car; a poor person likely won’t have the down-payment or the monthly income needed to purchase a new vehicle and will thus be stuck with the old gas guzzler.

Of course, this is also something that the Obama administration proposed, only to retreat when  opposition to this scheme exploded, so while it’s completely evil, it’s by no means unprecedented.

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