Over at the National Review, Walter Olson walks through the many reasons why the whole “Meals on Wheels” story is #FakeNews. The fact is that President Trump’s budget will not kill Meals on Wheels.
The short version is simple. The proposed budget would eliminate Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). This program has become a cesspool of cronyism and corruption. And — important — only three percent of the Meals on Wheels national budget comes from CDBG. In fact, about 1/3 of the funding for local Meals on Wheels programs comes from a completely different program: the Older Americans Act. Which is not part of CDBG. Here’s the most scathing part of Mr. Olson’s column:
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.”