|Facepalm photo by Robert Sikora.|
Question to Radio Yerevan: Did President Obama's 2012 budget cut $3.7 billion from the HUD Community Development Block Grant program, just like the Trump administration's skinny-budget proposal of this week?
Answer: In principle, yes. But
- First of all, it was a cut to $3.7 billion, not of $3.7 billion, from the previous funding of $4 billion; it was a cut of $300 million, or 7.5%, which is generally regarded as a different and considerably smaller number.
- Second of all, it was a counter-offer to the proposal of the Republican Congressional majority to cut it by more than 50%, to $1.5 billion, and succeeded in stopping them from going that far.
- Third of all, the selective quotation from the Obama administration's explanation disguises the cut's purpose, which was not to reduce spending (as the linked source suggests) but to redistribute the money to needier people; the missing sentence goes like this:
- And fourth of all, it was in the context of an overall proposed budget reduction for HUD of 1%, from $43.5 billion to $43 billion, in which money was all around not so much cut as moved around (especially, in the context of the continuing housing crisis, to providing direct assistance in home rentals and help to the homeless)—whereas the Trump "skinny budget" proposes to cut HUD by 13%, or $6.2 billion; a huge amount of money to the beneficiaries, but not so much to the US government as a whole, about the price of 57 F-35 Lockheed Stealth fighters, engines not included, at last November's prices.
The current formula for CDBG was established in statute over 30 years ago and legislative efforts to update the formula have been unsuccessful. As a result, the distribution of funds is not targeted to the most economically distressed communities, and communities in similar distress do not receive similar allocations.