Site Map

US Budget Should Preserve CDBG, Meals on Wheels - Vindicator


White House Budget CHIEF Mick Mulvaney tried but failed recently to rationalize the Donald Trump administration’s slashes to longstanding social-service and economic-development programs in its proposed fiscal year 2018 federal budget.

The federal government, he said, “can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good or great.”

Such hazy reasoning rings hollow in attempting to justify deep cuts to such successful – and yes, arguably great – programs as Community Development Block Grants and Meals on Wheels.

Legislative leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate should recognize as much and restore funding for those programs as one of their first moves in tinkering with the president’s budget outline for discretionary spending.

CDBG’s HISTORY OF SUCCESS

The CDBG program has survived many threats of budget cuts over its 43-year history. As one of the longest-running programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it funds affordable housing, anti-poverty programs and infrastructure development.

In Youngstown, CDBG has expedited neighborhood revitalization. According to Ian Beniston, executive director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., those funds are used each year to repair and restore dozens of houses.

Youngstown Mayor John McNally points out that those funds also fuel many vital services, such as health clinics, the United Way, Goodwill Industries and lead-paint safety programs.

In short, aging urban industrial communities like Youngstown have come to rely on CDBG as a lifeline to soften the blow of hits from shrinking tax bases and severe population losses.

Likewise, the Meals on Wheels program has served as a lifeline for millions of senior citizens and other home-bound individuals, including hundreds in our region.

The value of that program has long been clear. It significantly improves diet quality, increases nutrient intakes, reduces food insecurity and improves quality-of-life among the recipients, studies have shown. In addition, it saves government money in the long run by reducing the need of recipients to use hospitals, nursing homes or other expensive services.

DON’T MESS WITH DEFENSE

We’re confident budget negotiators can find adequate places in Trump’s “Skinny Budget” to trim without taking an ax to the integrity of CDBG and Meals on Wheels.

One place they should keep their paws off, however, is the Department of Defense.

As we commented last week when the spending blueprint first was released, the president’s proposed $54 billion boost to military spending would most likely stand to benefit one of the Valley’s largest employers and greatest assets – the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna Township. Its future would be strengthened by investment in a new more modern fleet of C130J transport planes, an investment that beefed-up defense dollars certainly would make more likely.

But such new investments in military needs should not preclude reinvestment in such critical community and humanitarian needs perhaps best exemplified by CDBG and Meals on Wheels.

To read the full story from the Vindicator, click here.