It’s time for the media to portray President Trump as cruel and evil. It’s harder for the media to do this with Trump than it has been with other Republicans, simply because Trump constantly uses the rhetoric of big government, guaranteeing Americans that their entitlements won’t be affected in any serious way. But with the presentation of his proposed budget, Democrats and the media finally pounced: Trump wants to kill old people by cutting funding to Meals on Wheels!
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) babbled, “The Republicans in Congress and this White House, as we’re seeing now just in a few weeks, never miss an opportunity to suck up money from the middle class.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) followed the same tack: “Once again the Trump administration is showing its true colors: talk like a populist but govern like a special interests zealot.”
And Time headlined, “Trump’s Budget Would Kill A Program That Feeds 2.4 Million Senior Citizens.”
So, is Trump actually killing Meals on Wheels?
Not even close.
The Trump administration proposed budget would kill the Community Development Block Grant, a federal boondoggle that’s largely been used for waste and fraud. It costs $3 billion per year. As the budget proposal stated, “The Federal Government has spent over $150 billion on this block grant since its inception in 1974, but the program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results.” Nick Gillespie of Reason explains:
The money often is not going to Meals on Wheels or even to the neediest communities. As a Reason Foundation analysis also from 2013 shows, wealthier communities get the larger chunks of the money, particularly counties that—what a coincidence!—are in proximity to Washington, D.C….Check out this audit from Riverside County, California, for their CDBG expenditures for 2016, and there's neither a meal nor a wheel to be found. Of the $761,744 the county received, nearly all of it went to improve a playground and the sidewalks of a single local elementary school. And note that the reason they were audited by Housing and Urban Development was because they hadn't provided proper documentation of their expenses.
Meals on Wheels does get some money from the CDGB. But the vast majority of its funding comes from elsewhere, and as even the leftists over at Snopes state, “the effect of CDBG cuts on local Meals on Wheels groups is uncertain.” Only 3 percent of the Meals on Wheels budget nationally comes from the federal government at all, and only a portion of that comes from the CDBG. Walter Olson of the Cato Institute explains that 35 percent of federal funding for Meals on Wheels comes from the Older Americans Act, not the CDBG; no cuts have been contemplated to that program yet.
So, Trump isn’t killing Meals on Wheels. But the damaging media coverage has many Republicans cowering in fear. As usual.