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Trump Administration Considers Changing How Government Measures Poverty

The administration raised the possibility of changing the poverty calculation in a notice published this week in the Federal Register.

By Pam Fessler

The Trump administration is considering changing the way the government measures poverty, which has anti-poverty groups worried that many low-income individuals will be pushed off assistance programs such as food stamps, Medicaid and Head Start.

The possible change would involve adjusting the poverty line annually using a different inflation measure, one that would result in a slower increase over time.

Arloc Sherman of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says this change would mean that millions of people eventually could see their benefits either reduced or eliminated because they wouldn't be considered as poor as they were under the old measure.

"They have a goal, and the goal is to cut people of low or moderate income off of government assistance," Sherman said of the administration. He noted that the idea is being floated at the same time that the White House is proposing work requirements and steep budget cuts for safety net programs.

The administration raised the possibility of changing the poverty calculation in a notice published this week in the Federal Register. It seeks public comment on which measure of inflation should be used but does not state a preference.

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