Outrage on Wheels
by WALTER OLSON March 17, 2017 1:21 PM
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.
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.
The bottom line summary is that the program that Trump would eliminate is a source of pork doled out at discretion of local pols, who throw a very few bones to worthwhile programs like MoW (and use those bones to defend their source of pork, as is being done right now). And while MoW does receive substantial Federal funding, it’s not through this bloc grant program Trump wants to eliminate.
National Review is not Pro-Trump. If anything, NR is Never-Trump, but with some honesty.