Saturday, March 18, 2017

Annals of derp: When Obama's approach to HUD budget was the same as Trump's, except for a couple of details

Facepalm photo by Robert Sikora.
It's Jim "Crème" DeMint's house propaganda organ, the Heritage Foundation Daily $ignal, wondering why Trump gets criticized for doing exactly the same crap that President Obama did:
The president’s budget called for slashing funding for a block grant program primarily because it was difficult to determine whether it was getting the desired results.
That was President Barack Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2012. It justified the $3.7 billion cut in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program by asserting:
While flexibility may be one strong characteristic of the CDBG program, the use of funds and how states and communities distribute their funds lead to resources spread across many activities, diverse constituencies, and geographies without clear or focused impact. This makes the demonstration of outcomes difficult to measure and evaluate.
The Trump administration budget blueprint, issued Wednesday, calls for eliminating funding for HUD’s $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program.
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:
  • 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.
  • 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.

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