White House defends proposed cuts to programs for elderly, minorities and poor

The White House on Thursday went on defense against claims its proposed budget would harm the elderly, the poor and minority groups.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney beat back allegations from reporters at a press briefing that President Trump’s proposed budget is “hard-hearted,” as CNN reporter Jim Acosta described it.

“We’re trying to focus on both the recipients of the money and the people who give us the money in the first place,” Mulvaney shot back. “I think it’s compassionate to say we’re not going to ask you for your hard-earned money anymore, single mom of two in Detroit … We’re not going to do that anymore unless we can guarantee to you that money is being used in a proper function. That’s about as compassionate as you can get.”

The White House budget requests a $6 billion cut to Housing and Urban Development, which MSNBC reporter Peter Alexander said went against Trump’s promise to urban black voters that he would rebuild the nation’s inner cities.

Mulvaney argued that the cuts to HUD were for money allocated on building new houses, which could be reinserted in a later infrastructure spending bill.

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“Nobody is getting kicked out of their houses,” he said. “What we did when we looked at the HUD budget was to look for ways to spend money better.”

The budget director was pressed on cuts to Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) that states use for programs like Meals on Wheels, a program that feeds the elderly.

“We spend $150 billion on those programs since the 1970s,” Mulvaney said. “These CDBGs have been identified as programs since the second Bush administration as not showing any results. We can’t do that anymore. We can’t spend money on programs because they sound good. Meals on Wheels sounds great and that’s a state decision to fund that. I can’t take money and give it to the states for programs that don’t work, I can’t defend that anymore. We’re $20 trillion in debt.”

Some of those same CDBGs are used to fund after-school educational programs that provide food to poor children, which Mulvaney said are ineffective.

“They’re supposed to be educational programs right? They’re supposed to help kids who don’t get fed at home get fed so they do better at school,” he said. “Guess what, there’s no demonstrable evidence they’re doing that, helping results, helping kids do better in school … which, when we took the money from you, the way we justified it was these programs are going to help children do better in school and get better jobs. We can’t prove that is happening.”