March 16 (UPI) — White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney defended the Trump administration’s proposed deep cuts to social welfare programs like free school lunches and Meals on Wheels as “about as compassionate as you can get” for taxpayers.
Mulvaney, speaking to the White House press corps on Thursday, addressed some of the controversial elements of Trump’s proposed $1.1 trillion discretionary spending plan, which includes a $54 billion increase for the Pentagon and deep cuts to the State Department, EPA and Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Under Trump’s plan, a popular HUD program known as Community Development Block Grants would be ended. The grants are pots of money given to the states to fund various social programs, including free and reduced-price school meals for children from low income families and Meals on Wheels, the national nonprofit that coordinates volunteers at the community level who cook and drive meals to homebound seniors.
The program cost $3 billion in the last federal budget.
Mulvaney said many of the social programs that were being funded by the grants have not lived up to their missions and deserve to be cut.
“Meals on Wheels sounds great,” Mulvaney said, adding “we’re not going to spend [money] on programs that cannot show that they actually deliver the promises that we’ve made to people.”
He said Trump’s spending plan delivers on the promise he made during the campaign, to cut wasteful spending.
“You’re only focusing on half of the equation, right? You’re focusing on recipients of the money. We’re trying to focus on both the recipients of the money and the folks who give us the money in the first place,” Mulvaney told reporters. “And 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 … unless we can guarantee to you that that money is actually going to be used in a proper function. And I think that is about as compassionate as you can get.”
Mulvaney also took aim at the school lunch program, which he said was enacted to improve the education of low-income students. Those results have not materialized, he said.
“They’re supposed to be educational programs, right? I mean, that’s what they’re supposed to do. They’re supposed to help kids who don’t get fed at home get fed so they do better in school,” Mulvaney said. “Guess what? There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually doing that. There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually helping results, helping kids do better in school… And we can’t prove that that’s happening.”