A Sleight of Hand

The Trump Administration (Office of Management & Budget) is proposing regulations which will change how inflation is calculated. You might say “so what,” but this change could profoundly affect the eligibility of millions of poor people for government programs such as Medicaid, food assistance, housing assistance and other social safety net programs.  This is because the method of calculating the rate of inflation is integral to determining the federal poverty level and eligibility for federal assistance programs is determined by whether an applicant’s earnings falls below the federal poverty level.

 

Of course, the Trump administration has a benign, innocent explanation for the change, but the notice published in the Federal Register (the place where proposed regulatory changes must be posted) acknowledged that the changes “may affect eligibility for programs that uses the poverty guidelines.” Used in this context, the word “may” is about as misleading and untruthful as it gets. This proposal will, in fact, harm millions of the most vulnerable people in the country.

 

The juxtaposition of giving enormous tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest individuals on the one hand and unabashedly trying to deprive poor people of essentials on the other hand is jarring.