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Friday, November 1, 2013
CNS Botches CPI Computation To Make Obama Look Bad

Ali Meyer sure came up with an arrestingly parsed number in an Oct. 30 article:

Since Ben Bernanke has been in control of the Federal Reserve, inflation has increased 43%  more under President Barack Obama than George W. Bush, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Meyer details how she came up with that number:

When Bernanke first took control of the Federal Reserve in 2006 while Bush was in office, the annual average CPI for all urban consumers was 201.6. When Bush left office in 2009, the annual average CPI rose to 214.537, a 6.4% increase.

Since that time, while Obama has been in office, inflation has increased by 9.14%. The most recent CPI data, released on Oct. 30, 2013 finds that the October average for CPI is 234.149.

The percentage increase from 6.4% to 9.14% is 42.81% or, rounded, 43%.

But Meyer appears to have credited Bush with the average CPI for all of 2009, despite the fact that he left office on January 20 of that year. According to the CPI data Meyer cites, the average CPI for 2008, the last full year of Bush's presidency, was 215.303, making that gap somewhat smaller and making the comparison somewhat more honest.

To make the numbers even more honest, Meyer should have started her Bush timeline in 2005, when the annual CPI was 195.3. Under that computation -- from 2005 to 2008 -- inflation increased 10.2% under Bush, bigger than the number Meyer attributes to Obama.

Further, Meyer's use of annual averages obscures the fact that according to the CPI data, CPI numbers under Bush actually peaked in July 2008 at 219.964. By December 2008, as the recession set in, that had dropped to 210.228. The monthly CPI numbers didn't approach that 2008 again until December 2010. So Meyer is rather perversely crediting Bush with recession-caused deflation -- which seems like an ugly way to praise Bush for lower inflation.

But, hey, it doesn't matter if Meyer's numbers are accurate or relevant. They make Obama look bad, and that's all that matters at CNS.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:12 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, November 1, 2013 8:15 PM EDT

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