Trump administration officials are notorious for their suspicion that a "deep state" of career military, intelligence, diplomatic, or civil service professionals is seeking to sabotage their work. But for a clearer example of sabotage — albeit without much in the way of a conspiracy — Trump would do well to cast his gaze at the Federal Reserve, which, dating back to before his inauguration, has been waging war on an inflationary menace that appears not to exist.
Trump's economy is caught in the crossfire, and growing slower because of it.
With the unemployment rate now low by historical standards, the Fed is steadily raising interest rates — hiking at the beginning of the year and then again at its June meeting.
More from Vox:
Charlottesville protests: a quick guide to the violent clashes this weekend
Donald Trump refuses to name the problem of white supremacist violence
We need to stop acting like Trump isn't pandering to white supremacists
Yet the inflation numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday show that over the past year, the Consumer Price Index has risen by just 1.7 percent. The so-called "core" CPI that many observers believe is more predictive of future inflation conveniently also increased by just 1.7 percent. The Fed, allegedly, is targeting an inflation rate of 2 percent. As you probably know, 2 percent is higher than 1.7 percent. As you may not know, the Fed's inflation index of choice — the Personal Consumption Expenditure Deflator — normally rises about 0.5 percentage points faster than CPI over the course of the year.
So inflation isn't just below the Fed's danger zone, it's well below it. Yet the central bank is working to slow the economy. And Trump's ideological field of vision has been so narrowed by the conservative movement that he doesn't even seem to see that an alternative course of action is possible.