Although a statement like “Donald Trump Puts Meals On Wheels On The Chopping Block” makes for a great headline, Trump’s budget proposal is, in reality, more complex and far-reaching than this statement would lead one to believe. In fact, the budget proposal makes no specific reference to Meal on Wheels. Instead, what is does is propose cutting off funding for the Community Development Block Grant program, a fund which since 1974 has offered financial support to both state and local government to help them promote the well-being of their poorest citizens.
If Congress approves giving the ax to the Community Development Block Grant program, Jenny Bertolette, spokeswoman for Meals on Wheels has stated that it “remains to be seen” what this would mean for the program. However, the worries are certainly real. Although, as a whole, Meals on Wheels currently only receives 3 percent of their financial support from federal funds, in some parts of the country, the program depends heavily on money from the federal government.
On the state level, 35 percent of funding comes from the Older Americans Act. But since Donald Trump has also proposed a total decrease of 17.9 percent in funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, it is likely the Older Americans Act will also be affected.
In Esquire, Bertolette states, “If they’re (the Older Americans Act) getting a substantial cut, one can assume or think that those cuts will trickle down through the programs and that could end up hurting Meals on Wheels even more than the block grant.”
In Forbes, contributor Erik Sherman makes the point that even if funding is cut, the Meals on Wheels program will not suddenly disappear. He argues that Trump’s opponents, including journalists covering the Trump administration, tend to “jump into every utterance and decision with, as a public policy Spinal Tap think tank would say, the dial turned up to 11.”
About the proposed funding cut, Sherman states later in his post, “Will there be consequences for the program (and others, obviously)? Of course. However, resorting to hysteria is dangerous, and that is happening, both among many on the political left and some media outlets. Such statements can make valid criticism look uninformed and foolish.”
Sherman does have a point. In the era of Trump, political polarization is arguably more extreme than it has been at any other time in our nation’s history. Emotions run high on both sides of the political spectrum, and some journalists on the left likely struggle more to stick to unbiased, objective reporting than they may have in the past.
However, Sherman’s argument falls flat considering the statements made by Budget Director Mick Mulvaney at a press conference on Thursday. When asked about the cuts in Trump’s budget outline, Mulvaney stated they are necessary because the CBG programs are “just not showing any results.”
The Budget Director specifically mentioned Meals on Wheels when he said, “We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good. And great, Meals on Wheels sounds great, but that’s a state decision to fund that particular portion. But to take federal money and give it to the states and say, ‘Look we want to give you to programs that don’t work,’ I can’t defend that anymore…. We’re not going to spend [money] on programs that cannot show they actually deliver the promises they’ve made to people.”
Mulvaney also stated that the proposed cuts to Meals on Wheels are “compassionate to taxpayers,” in fact “one of the most compassionate things we can do.”
When did it become socially acceptable to be so dismissive of the poor? Whether you’re a liberal with sympathies for socialism or a conservative whose heart beats faster at the thought of hands-off government, Mulvaney’s statements about Meals on Wheels, a program that provides meals to millions of needy seniors and helps keep seniors at home and out of expensive nursing facilities, is beyond heartless.
Such statements and similar policy made by the Trump administration and the GOP show an obvious disdain for the poor and less fortunate, including seniors and children.
As Trump’s budget proposal makes its way through Congress, and they decide whether to approve cuts affecting programs like Meals on Wheels in favor of increased military spending, I pray they’ll remember this; A nation is only as strong as it treats its weakest and most vulnerable citizens.
[Featured Image by De Visu/Shutterstock]