President Trump released his budget proposal. In it was a cut in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The CDBG is a pork barrel program directed largely at subsidy schemes for cronies in big cities around the country.
The media went wild with the fake story that the budget cut to CDBG was intended to KILL MEALS on WHEELS.
Meals on Wheels does not depend on CDBG money. It is a fact, not worth checking by the media, that it derives almost no funding from CDBG.
But since the worthy cause does receive a tiny amount from some city somewhere through CDBG, it is enough to foment selective fury and feigned outrage because the opportunity to falsely accuse President Trump of being the mean and nasty person they all know him to be is too good to pass up even if it isn’t true.
Will you see a correction or an apology from these moral masters? Nope.
Jon Smith, Admin
Outrage on Wheels
The story that Trump’s budget would kill the Meals on Wheels program was too good to check. But it was false.
From National Review: By WALTER OLSON, March 17, 2017
It made for great copy — irresistibly clickable and compulsively shareable. “Trump’s Budget Would Kill a Program That Feeds 2.4 Million Senior Citizens,” blared Time’s headline. “Trump Proposed Budget Eliminates Funds for Meals on Wheels,” claimed The Hill, in a piece that got 26,000 shares.
But it was false. And it wouldn’t have taken long for reporters to find and provide some needed context to the relationship between federal block grant programs, specifically Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), and the popular Meals on Wheels program.
I started on the organization’s own website. From Thursday’s conversation in the press, it was easy to assume that block grant programs — CDBG and similar block grants for community services and social services — are the main source of federal funding for Meals on Wheels. Not so.
Instead, as the national site explains, the major source of federal funding for the programs, accounting for 35 percent of overall local budgets, comes through the Sixties-era Older Americans Act. (Local programs also obtain support from state and county governments, private donors, and so on.)
According to the website, cuts have not been announced in Older Americans Act funding, although the group fears that they may lie ahead.
So where do the federal block grant programs come in? Well, they give states and localities a lot of discretion on where to allocate the money. One option is to add money to supplement Meals on Wheels funding. Some do use it for that purpose.
But as Scott Shackford makes clear in his new piece for Reason, that isn’t what CDBG is mostly about. CDBG funds regularly go into pork-barrel and business-subsidy schemes with a cronyish flavor. That’s why the program has been a prime target for budget-cutters for decades, in administration after administration.
It’s important to the CDBG program’s political durability that its grantees wind up sprinkling a bit of extra money on popular programs mostly funded by other means. That way, defenders can argue that the block grants “fund programs like Meals on Wheels.”
That’s what happened in the press this week. The New York Times got things rolling by reporting that the new budget proposes “the complete elimination of the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which funds popular programs like Meals on Wheels, housing assistance and other community assistance efforts.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper then boiled it down to a tweet: “On chopping block: $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which funds programs like Meals on Wheels.”
Meals on Wheels’s own national website, meanwhile, quotes its CEO and president Ellie Hollander being appropriately cautious and conditional: “We don’t know the exact impact yet,” she said. Big cuts “would be a devastating blow.” According to the website, “Details on our network’s primary source of funding, the Older Americans Act, which has supported senior nutrition programs for 45 years, have not yet been released.”
Most of the major press coverage Thursday had nothing at all to say about the OAA, which would only have complicated the shock headlines. And social media burned all day with indignant posts that seemed unaware that no cuts had been announced as of yet in the main program that funds Meals on Wheels.