A White House correspondent was incredulous after the White House budget director said cutting Meals on Wheels was “compassionate.”
During a press conference hosted by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director Mick Mulvaney, reporters were asking for clarification on the cuts proposed by the Trump administration to a large number of crucial programs with bipartisan support — namely the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program operated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Trump budget outline unveiled on Thursday morning slashes the entirety of that program’s $3 billion budget, which allocates grants to metropolitan areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people for various community programs. One of those programs is Meals on Wheels, which provides meals to shut-ins, brought to their homes by volunteers. With Meals on Wheels losing its federal grants, the program’s survival is unlikely. Mulvaney said the decision to propose shutting down CDBGs was due to a perceived lack of performance.
“What I can tell you about CDBGs is that’s what we fund. Right? So we spend $150 billion on those programs since the 1970s. The CDBGs have been identified as programs since I think the second Bush administration as ones that we just not showing any results. We can’t do that anymore,” Mulvaney said. “Meals On Wheels sounds great. Again, that’s a state decision to fund that particular portion, but to take the federal money and to give that to the states, and say look we want to give you federal money for programs that don’t work. I can’t defend that anymore.”
A White House correspondent then asked Mulvaney if the White House budget was “hard-hearted.”
“I don’t think so,” Mulvaney said in response to the question. “In fact, I think it is one of the most compassionate things we can do.”
After the reporter tried to interject after the word “compassionate,” Mulvaney finished his thought.
“You’re only focusing on half of the equation. Right? You’re focusing on recipients of the money. We’re trying to focus on both the recipients and the folks who give us the money in the first place, and I think it’s fairly compassionate to go to them and say look, we’re not going to ask you for your hard earned money anymore,” he said.
For reference, $3 billion divided by 137 million tax returns filed in 2015 amounts to an average of $21.80 per taxpayer to make sure elderly shut-ins get meals delivered to them.
Watch video of Mulvaney’s remarks below:
Jamie Green is a contributor for the Resistance Report covering the Trump administration, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.