White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney has claimed that cuts to a scheme designed to feed the poor were “compassionate to the taxpayer”.
Community projects like Meals on Wheels are just some of the social welfare schemes which are set to lose their federal funding under the Trump administration’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.
President Donald Trump's plans include the elimination of the $3bn (£2.4bn) Community Development Block Grant Program which funds schemes like Meal on Wheels, housing assistance programmes and projects to improve public facilities like parks.
Mr Mulvaney defended the plans to get rid of the fund, which was first introduced by former President Gerald Ford in 1975 and has since won bipartisan support.
He said they could not “spend on programmes that cannot show that they actually deliver the promises we’ve made to people”.
He added the budget blueprint, which will also proposes increased funding for the military and an immediate $1.5bn (£1.2bn) cash injection for Mr Trump's proposed border wall, was “one of the most compassionate things we can do”.
At a White House briefing, he told reporters: “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.
“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.”
As well as the Community Development programme, 12 out of 15 federal departments will see their funding slashed.
The most gravely hit will be the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which will reportedly receive $2.5bn (£2bn) instead of the current $8.2bn (£6.7bn).
The EPA has been at war with the White House since Mr Trump's inauguration when it tweeted a picture comparison of the crowds at Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration with Mr Trump’s earlier this year.
Mr Trump repeatedly insisted the crowd at his inauguration was the “biggest ever”, but the pictures showed a noticeably thinner attendance at his event.
More than 3,000 EPA workers could lose their jobs as programmes such as Mr Obama’s Clean Power Plan, aimed at tightening regulations on emissions from power plants, would be eliminated.
Popular state grants to protect local drinking and waste water would remain.
Mr Mulvaney defended the planned cuts to climate change programmes saying the White House “consider that to be a waste of your money”.
Mr Trump is a noted climate change sceptic who claimed it was a “hoax invented by the Chinese” during his election campaign.
Other departments which will be affected are Agriculture, Labour, Housing and State. Federal programmes like the National Endowment for the Arts.
Legal aid for the poor and low-income heating assistance will also likely be cut, if the proposals are approved in the House of Representatives.
The proposal only covers a quarter of the approximate $4tn (£3.3tn) federal budget and does not address taxes, social security, Medicare and Medicaid – the social health care programme for the country’s poorest.
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