If you’re going to create policies that affect the finances of everyday people living in America, you ought to know some basic things.
For example, you should be aware of what it takes to buy milk, eggs and bread. But it appears the president of the United States doesn’t have a clue what consumers have to do to buy groceries.
This is what Trump said when trying to make the case for voter identification cards: “You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card, you need ID. You go out and you want to buy anything, you need ID and you need your picture."
“White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she was ‘not sure’ when Trump last went to a grocery store,” reported The Washington Post’s John Wagner.
Clearly, Trump hasn’t bought groceries in a very long time, if ever.
Trying perhaps to clean up Trump’s error, Sanders pointed out that people have to show an ID to buy beer and wine.
But that’s not what Trump said. He specifically said people have to present ID to buy “groceries.”
“From coast to coast, food-seeking scofflaws were turned away from supermarkets, convenience stores and fruit markets as they tried to circumvent the nation’s long-standing grocery I.D. laws,” wrote comedian Andy Borowitz in a satirical article for the New Yorker.
As Borowitz imagines it (in an actual fake news story) a supermarket cashier quipped: “It’s always, ‘Oh, I left my food I.D. in my other pants,’ or some B.S. like that. Believe me, I’ve heard it all.”
Of course, Twitter had some fun with Trump’s fake fact about grocery shopping.
John Dean, who served as White House counsel under President Richard M. Nixon, made an interesting observation on Twitter.
In 2007, during his presidential campaign, Rudolph W. Giuliani was totally off the mark about the cost of some food basics, points out The Post’s Maura Judkis.
At the time, Giuliani said a gallon of milk was about $1.50 and a loaf of bread about $1.25 or $1.30.
But a check of a supermarket in Manhattan found a gallon of milk was $4.19 and a loaf of white bread $2.99 to $3.39.
In all seriousness, it’s troubling to me how out of touch Trump’s comment was. He’s responsible for shaping economic policies that affect people who are not rich. And we’ve been reminded again just how ill-informed he is about how regular folks live.
That’s annoying. What’s alarming is that he supports policies that could adversely affect the less fortunate.
Trump “will argue, of course, that his economic policies have been an unalloyed good for the American worker,” wrote The Post’s Philip Bump. “… But his track record doesn’t quite match that rhetoric.”
Take the recent tax legislation for example.
“The tax cuts were pitched as ‘rocket fuel’ for the economy, spiking job creation and wage growth,” Bump said. “Neither has happened. Real earnings — wage increases relative to inflation — are flat over the past year.
" … Where the cuts have been effective is where critics suggested they would be. Corporate executives are getting massive payouts from companies that are flush with cash that once would have gone to pay taxes. Half a trillion dollars has been spent by companies to buy back stocks, passing those tax cuts back to shareholders. Those shareholders are heavily concentrated among the richest Americans."
And about Trump’s trade wars, Bump writes: “Trump’s other economic moves are introducing other uncertainties for lower-wage Americans. The tariffs imposed by his administration have had the desired effect of destabilizing international trade agreements, but the effect for a lot of U.S. companies is increased costs and, in some cases, layoffs."
So, you see, Trump’s grocery store ID gaffe isn’t really that funny.
Color of Money question of the week
What do you think of Trump’s comments about needing ID to buy groceries? Send your comments to email@example.com. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Groceries.”
Live chat today
Let’s talk about your money. I’m live at noon (Eastern) today to take your personal finance questions.
Every week, I host a live discussion where I try to help readers figure out some financial issue that may be bothering them. It’s also a forum to share your successes. Have you paid off a debt? Perhaps, you finally reached your emergency fund goal. If so, share your personal testimony.
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What’s keeping you from becoming a millionaire?
In last week’s personal finance newsletter I asked: What’s keeping you from reaching your financial potential?
Dee from Upper Marlboro, Md., wrote, “I’m not a millionaire because I use my money to vacation and to help others. I have offered to use my credit cards when purchasing tickets to social events, dinners, airlines and hotel accommodations, etc. for family and friends. And then fail to pay off credit cards when family and friends reimburse me. Finally I’m not a millionaire because I’m paying high interest rates on credit cards. Can you help me pay off my credit cards?
Dee and anyone else with debt read: Ready to pay off your credit cards? Try the ‘Debt Dash’ method.
Nicole from Fairfax, Va., says she thinks student loans are keeping a lot of people from reaching their financial potential.
“I’m shocked that there isn’t more of a national outcry at the shady practices of student lenders,” she wrote. Lenders “manage to game regulations so that people end up paying three times the original amount. Student loan debt affects millions and punishes those who had the nerve to desire an education even if they weren’t born into wealth.”
R. Thompson, an educator from Minnesota, says she owes after 20 years $40,000 in student loans for a doctoral program, including a small parental loan for one of her children’s college education.
But she still has hopes to join the millionaire club.
“I might become a millionaire if I can keep working long enough,” she wrote. “My retirement account is doing quite well. I have more than $600,000 in retirement because I work for an institution that has a faculty union, and about $85,000 in an additional retirement account. Now that labor unions are under threat, I don’t know how long the good retirement, health care and other benefits of my teaching position will last. I don’t know whether, in the seven or so years I have left in my job before my projected retirement, of I will be able to amass the other $400,000 to become a millionaire. It took me 20 years to get to $600,000. Maybe, if I increase my retirement contribution, I can get up there. I have already increased the deduction substantially, but I also have an exciting life with travel and study (not extravagant vacations, but always learning and experiencing with local people) — and I will not give that up for millionaire status. I could die anytime, so why scrimp and save like a miser so I can count my millions at age 85?”
Color of Money columns this week
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