- John Moore/Getty Images
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, unveiled on Thursday, would cut federal funding for Meals on Wheels, a program that provides daily meals to millions of low-income seniors across the country.
White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at a press conference Thursday that Meals on Wheels “sounds great.” But he said that along with other anti-poverty programs, it is “not showing any results.”
“We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good,” Mulvaney told reporters. “We’re not going to spend money on programs that cannot show that they actually deliver the promises that we’ve made to people.”
Trump’s budget would strip $3 billion from the Community Development Block Grant program, which supports a variety of community-development and anti-poverty programs. Those include Meals on Wheels, which provided 219 million meals to 2.4 million seniors in 2016.
CNN reporter Jim Acosta asked Mulvaney if the funding cuts were “hard-hearted.” Mulvaney responded that reducing government spending on ineffective programs is “probably one of the most compassionate things we can do.”
“You’re only focusing on half of the equation, right? You’re only focusing on recipients of the money,” Mulvaney said. “We’re trying to focus on both the recipients of the money and the folks who give us the money in the first place. 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.'”
Meals on Wheels also receives state and local funding as well as private donations. It relies on volunteers to provide many of its services.
A recent study showed that the organization helps keep seniors in their homes – and out of costly nursing homes – longer. The national Meals on Wheels organization says that it saves the country $34 billion per year by preventing seniors from falling and injuring themselves in their homes.
Many Democratic lawmakers and political figures reacted with outrage to the proposed funding cuts:
Meals on Wheels feeds 500,000 veterans every year.
Where does taking food from hungry veterans fit into the “America First” doctrine?
— Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano) March 16, 2017
The return on investment from Meals on Wheels is pretty simple.
Grandparents get food. This is better than grandparents starving. https://t.co/JvqekoJUqI
— Jason Kander (@JasonKander) March 16, 2017