Mulvaney: We Won’t Spend Money on Programs That Can’t Show They Deliver on Promises

By Melanie Arter | March 16, 2017 | 10:47 PM EDT

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney (AP Photo)

( - Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said Thursday that the Trump administration will no longer spend money on programs that don’t deliver on the promises made, and one example of that is the Community Development Block Grant program.

According to the Housing and Urban Development website, “The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs.” It is “one of the longest continuously run programs at HUD.”


President Donald Trump’s “America First” budget plan eliminates funding for the Community Development Block Grant program, “a savings of $3 billion from the 2017 annualized CR level.”

According to the budget, “the federal government has spent over $150 billion on this block grant since its inception in 1974, but the program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results.”

“The Budget devolves community and economic development activities to the State and local level, and redirects Federal resources to other activities,” it added.

“Housing and Urban Development and the Community Development Block Grants aren't exclusively about housing. They support a variety of different programs, including, in part, Meals on Wheels, that affects a lot of Americans. In Austin, Texas today, one organization there that delivers those meals to thousands of elderly says that those citizens will no longer be able to be provided those meals. So what do you say to those Americans who are ultimately losing out - not on housing, but on other things that are taken out of that budget?” a reporter asked.

“As you know, or I think you know that Meals on Wheels is not a federal program. It's part of that community -- the CDBG -- the block grants that we give to the states, and then many states make the decision to use that money on Meals on Wheels,” said Mulvaney.

“Here’s what I can tell you about CDBGs, because that's what we fund -- right? -- is that we spend $150 billion on those programs since the 1970s. The CDBGs have been identified as programs since I believe the first -- actually, the second Bush administration as ones that were just not showing any results,” he said.

“We can't do that anymore. We can't spend money on programs just because they sound good, and Meals on Wheels sounds great -- again, that's a state decision to fund that particular portion too, but to take the federal money and give it to the states and say, look, we want to give you money for programs that don't work -- I can't defend that anymore. We cannot defend that anymore. We're $20 trillion in debt,” Mulvaney said.

“We're going to spend money, we're going to spend a lot of money, but we're not going to spend it on programs that cannot show that they actually deliver the promises that we've made to people,” he added.

“So you're talking about programs that do work or don't work. There’s a program called the SHINE, and it's in Pennsylvania -- rural counties of Pennsylvania that provides after-school educational programs for individuals in those areas, which so happens to be the state that helped propel President Trump to the White House,” a reporter said.

“I'm curious to what you say to those Americans in the community where they tell me today that 800 individuals will no longer -- children, who need it most -- will no longer be provided, in those most-needed communities, that educational care they need,” the reporter added.

While Mulvaney said he wasn’t familiar with the program, he commented on after-school programs in general.

“I'm not familiar -- you all are at an advantage over me because I’d have to memorize all 4,000 line items. So let’s talk about after-school programs, generally. They’re supposed to be educational programs, right? 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.  

“Guess what? There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually doing that. There’s no demonstrable evidence of actually ... helping kids do better in school, which is what -- when we took your money from you to say, look, we're going to go spend it on an after-school program. The way we justified it was these programs are going to help these kids do better in school and get better jobs, and we can't prove that that's happening,” Mulvaney said.

“To be clear, we're saying -- the administration, with this budget, is saying that no after-school programs out there are doing their job in helping educate these children?” the reporter asked.

“No, but I -- and again, now you're asking me a question I don't know the answer to, but I don't believe we cut all the funding for those types of things,” Mulvaney responded.