Tom Coburn Is An Inflation Truther

A blog about business and economics.
July 18 2013 12:02 PM

Tom Coburn Says Inflation Is Running at 8% A Year And He's Amazingly Wrong  


Earlier this morning at a hearing with Ben Bernanke, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) came out as an inflation truther, arguing that if the Bureau of Labor Statistics had stuck with 1980 methodology it would show that inflation was actually running at 8 percent per year.

Here's maybe the best way to think about this. Look above at the nominal GDP growth rate for the United States over the past 30 years. That's doing no inflation adjustment whatsoever. You'll see that unadjusted, the economy has basically never grown faster than 8 percent. So if you adjust for inflation with a belief that inflation's been running at 8 percent a year (rather than the ~4%, then ~2%, and more recently ~1.5% the official numbers show) that would mean the economy has been in a state of persistent recession ever since 1983 or so. Total American prosperity, on this view, peaked in roughly 1980 and then it's been a steady downhill slope ever since Ronald Reagan ruined everything.


Does Coburn really think that? Does he really think America produced more goods and services in 1983 than in 2013? Recall we're talking about aggregate output, not per capital output. There are roughly 100 million more people living in the United States today than there were at the beginning of this period.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

There Are New Abuse Allegations Against Adrian Peterson

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

John Oliver Pleads for Scotland to Stay With the U.K.

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter


Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police

The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police
  News & Politics
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.