Thursday, March 16, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He offered an interesting justification for his proposal to end the Meals on Wheels program.

Meals on Wheels is a volunteer-driven service that delivers food to elderly and infirm Americans. It is funded largely through the Community Development Block Grant, which Trump proposes to zero out. It receives federal funding in large part because meal delivery (which also serves as an informal wellness check) is much, much cheaper for the government than institutional care.

Of course, no government program is beyond scrutiny at budget time. But Trump's defense of killing Meals on Wheels, delivered via his budget director, veered into absurd territory. Calling it the "compassionate" thing to do for taxpayers, Mick Mulvaney said that Meals on Wheels "sounds great" but "doesn't work" before concluding, "I can't defend that anymore. We cannot defend that anymore. We're $20 trillion in debt." (It is not true that Meals on Wheels "doesn't work.")

If the federal debt of $19.9T was frozen at current levels, and the entire proposed $6.2B cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development were applied to it every year, the debt would be retired in the year 5227.

Why should I care about this?

  • A president who has an ideological problem with charity or social welfare programs should say so directly, rather than resort to scare tactics.
  • Arguably, the health and wellness of American senior citizens today is more important than the budget deficit in the 53rd century.