On January 6, 2022, federal judge Jeffrey Brown, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, granted the Biden administration’s request to dismiss a lawsuit that had been filed by more than 20 Republican attorneys general challenging President Biden’s revocation of the permit for the continued construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. (Biden had first announced that revocation on January 20, 2021, when he issued an an executive order stating that the Keystone project would undermine America’s effort to “prioritize the development of a clean energy economy.”) Specifically, Judge Brown ruled that he could not determine the constitutionality of Biden’s executive order because on June 9, 2021, TC Energy, the Keystone pipeline’s developer, had announced its intention to permanently halt construction of the pipeline and to focus thereafter on other projects. “The court takes TC Energy at its word that Keystone XL is dead,” Brown wrote in his January 6, 2022 ruling. “And because it is dead, any ruling this court makes on whether President Biden had the authority to revoke the permit would be advisory. Thus, the court has no jurisdiction and the case must be dismissed as moot.” Brown declined to say whether he believed it was within the purview of Biden’s constitutional authority to have issued the executive order in the first place.
According to The Daily Caller: “Overall, the [Keystone] pipeline was expected to generate $55.6 million in property taxes across three states [and to] create 42,000 American jobs and $2 billion in total wages.”
Biden’s Remarks on the First Anniversary of the January 6, 2021 Occupation of the U.S. Capitol
In a January 6, 2022 speech on Capitol Hill, President Biden spoke at length in an event commemorating the first anniversary of the temporary occupation of the U.S. Capitol by several hundred Trump supporters one year earlier. Below is a partial transcript of Biden’s remarks, which were clearly aimed at setting the stage for an already-announced Democrat plan to pass legislation — particularly The For The People Act — that would radically change how elections in the United States would be run:
“Madam Vice President and fellow Americans, to state the obvious, one year ago today, in this sacred place, democracy was attacked. Simply attacked. The will of the people was under assault. The constitution — our constitution — faced the greatest of threats. Outnumbered in the face of a brutal attack, the Capitol Police, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the National Guard and other brave law enforcement officials saved the rule of law.
“Our democracy held. We the people endured. We the people prevail. For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election — he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol. But they failed. They failed. And on this day of remembrance, we must make sure that such an attack never, never happens again. […]
“Close your eyes. Go back to that day. What do you see? Rioters rampaging, waving for the first time inside this Capitol, the confederate flag that symbolizes the cause to destroy America, to rip us apart.
“Even during the Civil War that never ever happened. But it happened here in 2021. What else did you see? A mob, breaking windows, kicking in doors, breaching the Capitol, American flags on poles being used as weapons, as spears. Fire extinguishers being thrown at the heads of police officers. A crowd that professes their love for law enforcement assaulted those police officers. Dragged them, sprayed them, stomped on them.
“Over 140 police officers were injured. […] We saw with our own eyes, rioters menace these halls, threatening the life of the Speaker of the House. Literally erecting gallows to hang the Vice President of the United States of America.
“What did we not see? We didn’t see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack sitting in the private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House watching it all on television. And doing nothing. For hours. As police were assaulted. Lives at risk. The nation’s capital under siege.
“This wasn’t a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection. They weren’t looking to uphold the will of the people. They were looking to deny the will of the people. They were looking to uphold– they weren’t looking to uphold a free and fair election, they were looking to overturn one. They weren’t looking to save the cause of America. They were looking to subvert the Constitution. […]
“We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie. And here’s the truth. The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He’s done so because he values power over principle. Because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest, than America’s interest, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can’t accept he lost.
“Even though that’s what 93 United States senators, his own attorney general, his own vice president, governors and state officials in every battleground state have all said. He lost. That’s what 81 million of you did as you voted for a new way forward. He’s done what no president in American history, the history of this country has ever, ever done. He refused to accept the results of an election and the will of the American people.
“While some courageous men and women in the Republican Party are standing against it, trying to uphold the principle of that party, too many others are transforming that party into something else. They seem no longer to want to be the party, the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan, the Bushes. […] So at this moment, we must decide, what kind of nation are we going to be? Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm? Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed will of the people? Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth, but of the shadow of lies?
“We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation. The way forward is to recognize the truth and to live by it. The big lie being told by the former president and many Republicans who fear his wrath is that the insurrection in this country actually took place on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020. Think about that. […] Former president’s supporters are trying to rewrite history. They want you to see Election Day as the day of insurrection. And the riot that took place here on Jan. 6 as a true expression of the will of the people.
“Can you think of a more twisted way to look at this country? To look at America? I cannot. Here’s the truth. The election of 2020 was the greatest demonstration of democracy in the history of this country. More of you voted in that election than have ever voted in all of American history.
“Over 150 million Americans went to the polls and voted that day. In a pandemic. Some at great risk to their lives. They should be applauded, not attacked. Right now in state after state, new laws are being written not to protect the vote, but to deny it.
“Not only to suppress the vote but to subvert it. Not to strengthen and protect our democracy but because the former president lost. Instead of looking at the election results in 2020, and saying they need new ideas or better ideas to win more votes, the former president and his supporters have decided the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote and subvert our elections. It’s wrong, it’s undemocratic and frankly, it’s un-American.
“The second big lie being told by the former president and his supporters is that the results of the election of 2020 can’t be trusted. The truth is that no election, no election in American history has been more closely scrutinized or more carefully counted. Every legal challenge questioning the results and every court in this country that could have been made was made and was rejected.
“Often rejected by Republican-appointed judges, including judges appointed by the former president himself. From state courts to the United States Supreme Court. Recounts were undertaken in state after state. Georgia, Georgia counted its results three times with one recount by hand. Phony partisan audits were undertaken long after the election in several states, none changed the results. In some of them, the irony is the margin of victory actually grew slightly. So let’s speak plainly about what happened in 2020.
“Even before the first ballot was cast, the former president was preemptively so in doubt about the election results. He built his lie over months, wasn’t based on any facts. He was just looking for an excuse, a pretext, to cover for the truth. He’s not just a former president. He’s a defeated, former president — defeated by a margin of over 7 million of your votes in a full and free and fair election.
“There is simply zero proof the election results were inaccurate. […]
“Finally, the third big lie being told by a former president and his supporters is that the mob who sought to impose their will through violence are the nation’s true patriots. Is that what you thought when you looked at the mob ransacking the Capitol, destroying property, literally defecating in the hallways, rifling through the desks of senators and representatives, hunting down members of Congress? Patriots? Not in my view.
“To me, the true patriots were the more than 150 [sic] Americans who peacefully expressed their vote at the ballot box. The election workers who protected the integrity of the vote. And the heroes who defended this capital.
“You can’t love your country only when you win. You can’t obey the law only when it’s convenient. You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies. Those who stormed this Capitol and those who instigated and incited and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy.
“They didn’t come here out of patriotism or principle. They came here in rage. Not in service of America, but rather in service of one man. Those who incited the mob, the real plotters who were desperate to deny the certification of this election, defy the will of the voters, but their plot was foiled. Congressmen, Democrats and Republicans stayed. Senators, representatives, staff — they finished their work the Constitution demanded. […]
“Make no mistake about it, we’re living at an inflection point in history, both at home and abroad. We’re engaged anew in a struggle between democracy and autocracy. Between aspirations of the many and the greed of the few, between the people’s right of self-determination and self-seeking autocrat. From China to Russia and beyond, they’re betting that democracies’ days are numbered. […] They’re betting that America is a place for the autocrat, the dictator, the strong man. I do not believe that. That is not who we are. That is not who we have ever been. And that is not who we should ever, ever be. Our founding fathers, as imperfect as they were, set in motion an experiment that changed the world, literally changed the world. […]
“The former president who lies about this election and the mob that attacked this Capitol could not be further away from the core American values. They want to rule or they will ruin. Ruin what our country fought for at Lexington and Concord, at Gettysburg and Omaha Beach, Seneca Falls, Selma, Alabama. And what we were fighting for — the right to vote, the right to govern ourselves, the right to determine our own destiny. […] So we have to be firm, resolute and unyielding in our defense of the right to vote and to have that vote counted.
“Some have already made the ultimate sacrifice in this sacred effort. Jill and I have mourned police officers in this Capitol Rotunda not once but twice in the wake of Jan. 6. Once to honor Officer Brian Sicknick, who lost his life the day after the attack and the second time to honor Officer Billy Evans, who lost his life defending this Capitol as well. [Actually, Evans was U.S. Capitol Police officer who died as a result of injuries sustained during an April 2021 car attack carried out at the Capitol] by Noah Green, a 25-year-old black nationalist who espoused extremist viewpoints advanced by the Nation of Islam.]
“We think about the others who lost their lives and were injured and everyone living with the trauma of that day […] The pain and scars from that day run deep.
“I’ve said it many times, and it’s no more true or real when we think about the events of Jan. 6. We are in a battle for the soul of America. A battle that — by the grace of God, and the goodness and greatness of this nation — we will win. Believe me, I know how difficult democracy is, and I’m crystal clear about the threats America faces.
“But I also know that our darkest days can lead to light and hope. From the death and destruction as Vice President referenced in Pearl Harbor can then triumph over the forces of fascism, from the brutality of Bloody Sunday and the Edmund Pettus Bridge came historic voting rights to this nation. So now let’s step up, write the next chapter in American history where Jan. 6 marks, not the end of democracy but the beginning of a renaissance of liberty and fair play.
“I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today. But I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy. We will make sure the will of the people is heard. That the ballot prevails not violence. That authority in this nation will always be peacefully transferred. […]”
Biden Restores U.S. Aid to Palestinian Authority
On March 23, 2018, then-resident Trump signed into law the Taylor Force Act, whose purpose was to stop American economic aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until the PA would agree to stop paying stipends through the Palestinian Authority Martyr’s Fund to individuals who committed acts of terrorism and to the families of terrorists who died during the commission of their atrocities. As Islam scholar Robert Spencer notes, “This system of stipends to imprisoned terrorists and to the families of terrorists who were killed while carrying out their attacks is known, pejoratively and correctly, as the ‘Pay-For-Slay’ program.” As a result of the Taylor Act, several cuts were made to the U.S. aid given to the PA, with the last one made on August 24, 2018, ending all direct American aid to the PA.
Also in August 2018, the United States ended all aid to the United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA), cutting off $300 million. That ending of aid to UNRWA was made for two reasons. First, it was a way to express American outrage with the UNRWA’s use of schoolbooks that remain full of anti-Semitic passages, despite repeated, unfulfilled promises by UNRWA that it would be revising, or replacing, those texts. Second, the Trump Administration was expressing its frustration with the unique treatment of “Palestinian refugee” status as inheritable, which has meant that the UNRWA rolls constantly expand. In ending its aid, the Trump administration was putting pressure on UNRWA to halt this inexorable increase in the number of “Palestinian refugees.”
In January 2022, the Biden Administration announced a payment of $99 million to UNRWA. This was in addition to the $318 million previously given to UNRWA in the 2021 fiscal year. In short, more than $400 million had thus been provided by Washington to UNRWA, even though the anti-Semitic texts used in its schools remained unchanged. Biden also renewed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority, even though the Pay-For-Slay program remained in force – and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that he would give his “last penny” to keep that program running no matter what the Americans thought. The Biden Administration tried to claim that this renewed financial assistance to the PA did not violate the Taylor Force Act because it was pf a “humanitarian” nature. But as Robert Spencer noted: “[T]his is absurd; there was no exception made in the Taylor Force Act for ‘humanitarian’ aid. Besides, money is fungible. If you give the PA $300 million in ‘humanitarian aid,’ that will simply free up other sums it possesses to spend on such things as anti-Israel propaganda and, especially, on the Pay-For-Slay program that rewards past, and incentivizes future, acts of terrorism.”
Biden’s Speech About the Need for Voting Rights Legislation
On January 11, 2021, President Biden went to Georgia to deliver the following remarks:
In our lives and the lives of our nation — the life of our nation, there are moments so stark that they divide all that came before from everything that followed. They stop time. They rip away the trivial from the essential. And they force us to confront hard truths about ourselves, about our institutions, and about our democracy. In the words of Scripture, they remind us to “hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate.”
Last week, [Vice] President Harris and I stood in the United States Capitol to observe one of those “before and after” moments in American history: January 6th insurrection on the citadel of our democracy. Today, we come to Atlanta — the cradle of civil rights — to make clear what must come after that dreadful day when a dagger was literally held at the throat of American democracy. […] [T]he violent mob of January 6th, 2021, empowered and encouraged by a defeated former president, sought to win through violence what he had lost at the ballot box, to impose the will of the mob, to overturn a free and fair election, and, for the first time — the first time in American history, they — to stop the peaceful transfer of power.
They failed. They failed. (Applause.) But democracy’s — but democracy’s visi- — victory was not certain, nor is democracy’s future. That’s why we’re here today to stand against the forces in America that value power over principle, forces that attempted a coup — a coup against the legally expressed will of the American people — by sowing doubt, inventing charges of fraud, and seeking to steal the 2020 election from the people. They want chaos to reign. We want the people to rule. […] The battle for the soul of America is not over. We must stand strong and stand together to make sure January 6th marks not the end of democracy but the beginning of a renaissance of our democracy. […]
Black Americans were denied full citizenship and voting rights until 1965. Women were denied the right to vote until just 100 years ago. The United States Supreme Court, in recent years, has weakened the Voting Rights Act. And now the defeated former president and his supporters use the Big Lie about the 2020 election to fuel torrent and torment and anti-voting laws — new laws designed to suppress your vote, to subvert our elections.
Here in Georgia, for years, you’ve done the hard work of democracy: registering voters, educating voters, getting voters to the polls. You’ve built a broad coalition of voters: Black, white, Latino, Asian American, urban, suburban, rural, working class, and middle class. […] And what’s been the reaction of Republicans in Georgia? Choose the wrong way, the undemocratic way. To them, too many people voting in a democracy is a problem. So they’re putting up obstacles.
For example, voting by mail is a safe and convenient way to get more people to vote, so they’re making it harder for you to vote by mail. […]
Dropping your ballots off to secure drop boxes — it’s safe, it’s convenient, and you get more people to vote. So they’re limiting the number of drop boxes and the hours you can use them.
Taking away the options has a predictable effect: longer lines at the polls, lines that can last for hours. You’ve seen it with your own eyes. People get tired and they get hungry.
When the Bible teaches us to feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty, the new Georgia law actually makes it illegal — think of this — I mean, it’s 2020, and now ’22, going into that election — it makes it illegal to bring your neighbors, your fellow voters food or water while they wait in line to vote. What in the hell — heck are we talking about? I mean, think about it. That’s not America. That’s what it looks like when they suppress the right to vote.
And here’s how they plan to subvert the election: The Georgia Republican Party, the state legislature has now given itself the power to make it easier for partisan actors — their cronies — to remove local election officials. […] Remember what the defeated former president said to the highest-ranking election official — a Republican — in this state? He said, quote, “I just want to find 11,780 votes.” […]
[W]ith this new law in Georgia, his loyal- — his loyalists will be placed in charge of state elections. What is that going to mean? Well, the chances for chaos and subversion are even greater as partisans seek the result they want — no matter what the voters have said, no matter what the count. The votes of nearly 5 million Georgians will be up for grabs if that law holds.
It’s not just here in Georgia. Last year alone, 19 states not proposed but enacted 34 laws attacking voting rights. There were nearly 400 additional bills Republican members of state legislatures tried to pass. And now, Republican legislators in several states have already announced plans to escalate the onslaught this year. Their endgame? To turn the will of the voters into a mere suggestion — something states can respect or ignore.
Jim Crow 2.0 is about two insidious things: voter suppression and election subversion. It’s no longer about who gets to vote; it’s about making it harder to vote. It’s about who gets to count the vote and whether your vote counts at all. It’s not hyperbole; this is a fact. […]
[T]oday, we call on Congress to get done what history will judge: Pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Pass it now — which would prevent voter suppression so that here in Georgia there’s full access to voting by mail, there are enough drop boxes during enough hours so that you can bring food and water as well to people waiting in line. The Freedom to Vote Act takes on election subversion to protect nonpartisan
electors[election] officials, who are doing their job, from intimidation and interference. It would get dark money out of politics, create fairer district maps and ending partisan gerrymandering.
Look, it’s also time to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
I’ve been having these quiet conversations with the members of Congress for the last two months. […] Folks, it’ll restore the strength of the Voting Rights Act of ’65 — the one President Johnson signed after John Lewis was beaten, nearly killed on Bloody Sunday, only to have the Supreme Court weaken it multiple times over the past decade. Restoring the Voting Rights Act would mean the Justice Department can stop discriminatory laws before they go into effect — before they go into effect. […]
Not a single Republican has displayed the courage to stand up to a defeated president to protect America’s right to vote. Not one. Not one. […] I believe that the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills, debate them, vote. Let the majority prevail. And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this. […] While the state legislatures’ assault on voting rights is simple — all you need in your House and Senate is a pure majority — in the United States Senate, it takes a supermajority: 60 votes, even to get a vote — instead of 50 — to protect the right to vote.
State legislatures can pass anti-voting laws with simple majorities. If they can do that, then the United States Senate should be able to protect voting rights by a simple majority. Today I’m making it clear: To protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules, whichever way they need to be changed — to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights. When it comes to protecting majority rule in America, the majority should rule in the United States Senate.
Biden’s Approval Rating Plummets
On January 12, 2022, the Post Millennial reported:
A new Quinnipiac University poll released on [January 12] revealed that Joe Biden’s approval rating sits at just 33 percent, with 53 percent of American disapproving of his job performance. This is down from the last time Quinnipiac asked the question in November, when 36 percent of Americans approved, while 53 percent disapproved.
Of those that disapproved, a whopping 43 percent said they strongly disapprove of his job performance. 17 percent said they strongly approve, 16 percent said they somewhat approve, and 10 percent said they somewhat disapprove.
A notable amount of Democrats have flipped their stance of Biden’s job approval, with 75 percent approving and 14 percent disapproving in the recent poll. In November’s poll, 87 percent [of Democrats] approved, and 7 percent disapproved. […]
Just 34 percent said they approved of Biden’s handling of the economy, while 57 percent said they disapproved. […]
35 percent said they approved of his foreign policy response, with 54 percent saying they disapproved.
And in COVID-19 response, 39 percent said they approved of Biden’s handling, while 55 percent said they disapproved.
Supreme Court Blocks Vaccine Mandate for Businesses
On January 13, 2022, NationalReview.com reported:
The Supreme Court temporarily suspended the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers on [January 13], but allowed the administration’s vaccine mandate for health-care workers at facilities that receive federal funding to go into effect.
In the first case, the conservative majority on the bench ruled in a 6-3 vote to block President Biden’s vaccine requirement for private businesses pending further review by the court. Biden had argued that the order derived authority from the 1971 Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which empowered the federal government to regulate workplace health and safety standards.
However, the majority opinion, issued without an author, argued that the mandate exceeded its statutory authority and raised separation of powers concerns “in the absence of clear delegation from Congress.” It was inappropriate for the Biden administration to invoke the Emergency Temporary Standard provision of the law since it applies to very “narrow circumstances,” the Court said.
“Applicants are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Secretary lacked authority to impose the mandate. Administrative agencies are creatures of statute. They accordingly possess only the authority that Congress has provided,” the Court’s unsigned decision read.
Specifically, the Labor Secretary must demonstrate that “employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards” and that the “emergency standard is necessary to protect employees from such danger.” The Court said the risk posed by Covid in the workplace failed to meet these prongs.
“Congress has nowhere clearly assigned so much power to OSHA,” Justice Gorsuch wrote in a concurring opinion joined by Justice Thomas and Justice Alito.
Moreover, the Court declared that the OSHA mandate was far too broad in treating all commercial sectors the same. While the order includes narrow exceptions for remote workers or those who work exclusively outdoors, “the regulation otherwise operates as a blunt instrument,” the court said. “It draws no distinctions based on industry or risk of exposure to COVID–19.”
While the court acknowledged the testing exemption for employees who choose not to get vaccinated, it noted that employers are not required to offer this option, leaving some employees in the vulnerable position of getting fired with no recourse.
The Court touched on the medical liberty question, calling the mandate an “encroachment into the lives and health of employees” and noting that, unlike rules for workplace dangers on the job, vaccination is irreversible.
OSHA, the Court said, was charged with regulating “occupational” hazards, exclusive to the workplace, for the safety and health of employees rather than public health generally, “which falls out of OSHA’s sphere of expertise.”
In order for the mandate to be permissible, given that Covid presents universal risk regardless of the setting, the Court said it would need to target occupation-specific risks related to the virus in certain industries, such as research laboratories. […]
In the second case dealing with the vaccine requirement for healthcare workers at facilities that receive federal funding, the Court dismissed the statutory objections and allowed the mandate to be enacted, since those institutions fall within the government’s regulatory domain. “We agree with the Government that the Secretary’s rule falls within the authorities that Congress has conferred upon him,” the Court’s majority opinion read.
Congress granted the Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to “impose conditions on the receipt of Medicaid and Medicare funds” that for the health and safety of individuals who provide those services, the Court noted.
In the dissenting opinion, Justice Thomas, with Justice Alito, Justice Gorsuch, and Justice Barrett joining in dissent, made a statutory argument that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is not authorized to prescribe something as specific as a vaccine mandate by its respective laws.
Regarding the Court’s ruling against a vaccine mandate for all businesses with more than 100 employees, President Biden said: “I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law.”
And regarding the Court’s decision to uphold Biden’s mandate requiring medical workers to get vaccinated, the president said: “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the requirement for health care workers will save lives.”
Biden Exhorts the Press and Social Media to Censor “Misinformation and Disinformation” About COVID-19
Huge Increases in Producer Price Index & Inflation
On January 13, 2022, Breitbart.com reported:
Businesses saw the prices of goods they sell rise a record 9.7 percent in 2021, the fastest full-year increase in prices in records going back to 2010.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that its Producer Price Index rose two-tenths of a percentage point in December. That’s a slowdown from November, when prices rose one percent, and October, when prices rose six-tenths of a percentage point.
The 12-month increase in producer price inflation of 9.7 percent … rise was the fastest annual jump on record, far above the 0.8 percent increase in 2020 and the 1.4 percent rise in 2019.
The Producer Price Index measures prices from the point of view of sellers, in contrast with the better-0known Consumer Price Index’s focus on what households pay for goods and services they purchase. The two indexes tend to move in the same direction, although they can diverge from time to time. […]
The CPI rose seven percent from December 2020 to December 2021, the highest such inflation rate since 1982.
Core PPI inflation–which excludes food, energy, and trade services–rose 0.4 percent in December following a 0.8-percent increase in November. Core prices are up 6.9 percent since December 2020.
Current Measures of Inflation May Drastically Underestimate the Problem
On December 15, 2021, Marc E. Fitch reported the following in YankeeInstitute.org:
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that inflation in 2021 had hit 6.8 percent, a rate not seen since 1982, but, according to some economists, the reality may be much worse and that could leave senior citizens and others who rely on social security benefits in a tough spot.
That’s because the standard measurement for inflation – the CPI-U – has undergone various revisions in how inflation is calculated since the 1940s. The sixth and most recent comprehensive revision came in 1998, according to the BLS, but there have been numerous small changes over the years as well.
According to Investopedia, “For several years, there has been controversy about whether the CPI overstates or understates inflation, how it is measured, and whether it is an appropriate proxy for inflation,” noting that some critics see the current inflation measurement “as a purposeful manipulation that allows the U.S. to report a lower CPI,” and therefore report a healthier economy. […]
“Back in 1980, your CPI was 13.5 percent and had we been using the algorithm from 1980, we’d be looking at 14.5 percent today,” [said the Chief Economist for DataCore Partners, LLC, Donald Klepper-Smith]. […] It’s not measuring the cost of living anymore, it’s measuring the cost of surviving and barely, at that. The federal statistics we have on inflation aren’t adequately measuring inflation the way consumers are experiencing it.” […]
Klepper-Smith points to a website called John Williams’ Shadow Government Statistics, which is run by economist and consultant Walter “John” Williams and offers inflation measurements based on the algorithms used in both the 1980s and 1990s. According to Shadow Stats, if inflation today were measured by the same methods as it was in the 1980s, inflation would be closer to 15 percent. Even by the standards used in the 1990s, today’s inflation would be over ten percent. […]
The Social Security Administration calculates the cost-of-living adjustment for social security payments using the CPI-W, a slightly different measurement. This year’s COLA adjustment will be 5.9 percent, almost one percentage point lower than the CPI-U and far less than inflation if measured using older methods. Part of the issue stems from whether inflation should be measured by a cost of goods index (COGI) or a cost-of-living index (COLI), the difference between the two being whether CPI calculation should use a fixed basket of goods or allow for substitution. For instance, if the price of steak rises, consumers may substitute a less expensive form of meat. Under a COGI measurement, the price increase of steak would be still be used to calculate inflation. Under COLI, the steak can be substituted for cheaper ground beef or chicken.
Williams also points to a change in how inflation in housing is measured, moving away from calculating the rising cost of owning a home to calculating how much the rental cost for that same home rises – a measurement known as owners’ equivalent rent. Williams says this change alone knocked 1.5 percentage points off the CPI.