CEPR

For Immediate Release: June 20, 2019
Contact: Karen Conner, (202) 293-5380 x117, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Washington DC — The Trump administration wants to change how poverty is measured as a way to reduce access to public programs. If he’s successful, over a ten-year span, millions could lose access to Medicaid, parts of Medicare, SNAP, and other public programs. But, in setting a precedent for changing the poverty measure, Shawn Fremstad argues in today’s CEPR Blog, Trump opens the door for future presidents to reverse his decision and open wide the access to public programs by yet another recalibration of the poverty measure.

Even if you don’t follow the technical jargon of setting the poverty rate, Fremstad emphasises the important takeaway: “If Trump breaks the norm then the next progressive president should have no qualms about increasing the official poverty line in a way that more accurately reflects social consensus,” said Fremstad. “Such a progressive move has the side benefits of moving us closer to public health insurance for all and a more inclusive welfare state.”

Fremstad is a senior policy fellow and a lawyer at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He’s well-suited to explain the legal and economic impact of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) and chained CPI-U when used as a benchmark for the poverty line.