Budget chief says Meals on Wheels safe
Official calls stories of looming cuts ‘grossly wrong.’
Mick Mulvaney calls reports that the popular social service will be gutted “grossly wrong.”
Meals on Wheels, the popular nationwide program that provides hot meals to needy seniors, has become a rallying point for critics of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, which slashes spending on social initiatives to beef up military spending.
But on Sunday, the Trump administration answered an emphatic “no” to the question of whether the budget would gut Meals on Wheels.
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said that the funding source the administration seeks to eliminate — the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s community development block grants — accounts for just 3 percent of Meals on Wheels’ overall funding.
“Some of the stories are just either grossly wrong or nearly grossly wrong, all the stories about how we cut Meals on Wheels,” Mulvaney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Meals on Wheels is not a federal program, nor do its local groups directly receive federal funding. Rather, the groups run on a mix of local, state and federal money, as well as private donations and the work contributions of volunteers, which vary depending on the funding structure of each affiliate.
Most federal money that ends up supporting Meals on Wheels comes from a separate program run by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Trump administration has proposed cutting the overall HHS budget by 17.9 percent, but has not yet detailed where those cuts would fall and whether they would impact the Administration for Community Living, which funds nutrition programs for the elderly, as The Washington Post’s Fact Checker columnist Glenn Kessler explained. A top official at Meals on Wheels told Kessler that the organization anticipates the cuts will impact its funding.
Democrats sought Sunday to shame the Trump administration for a budget that takes away resources for programs like Meals on Wheels. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the Trump budget would “take money from Meals on Wheels and give it to the Defense Department.”
Mulvaney defended the administration’s budget from criticism that its cuts to social programs would be painful for millions of working-class voters in rural states like West Virginia, where voters went heavily for Trump in last fall’s election.
“The president knows who his voters are,” Mulvaney said, arguing that the budget demonstrates “compassion.”
Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has faced a backlash for suggesting during a news conference at the White House Thursday that popular antipoverty and education programs like Meals on Wheels don’t work.