So this is how we “Make America Great Again.” We take away the funding for Meals on Wheels programs.
President Donald Trump has released his proposed budget and, if it passes, it would destroy funding for the arts, the humanities, the environment and, yes, the popular Meals on Wheels programs that provide meals to the elderly.
Meals on Wheels sounds good, but the program is “not showing any results,” budget director Mick Mulvaney said.
Besides, we need the money to build a beautiful wall to protect us from Mexicans.
There are a lot of things I don't know about, but I do have a pretty good handle on Meals on Wheels because I make my living serving churches in rural communities. And in every community I have served, I have had parishioners who volunteer to pick up hot meals in foam containers and take them around to elderly shut-ins.
They not only deliver the meals, they visit for a minute or two, and they often notice if something is wrong.
Small-town people don't have a lot of secrets because they live in such close proximity but they usually develop an ability to mind their own business while noticing if something is out of the ordinary. They will certainly notice if the recipient of the Meals on Wheels entree doesn't answer the door.
The other thing I've noticed working in small towns around the state is that they have culture. These little towns have museums and arts groups and musical groups. Their kids are bused to Madison to see the student performances of the Madison Opera. Their adults (and kids) watch public television.
“We can't ask a coal miner to pay for the Public Broadcasting System,” Mulvaney said, adding that we can ask that miner to pay for a $54 billion increase in military spending.
Why can't we ask a coal miner to pay for PBS? Do we think he's too stupid to watch a Ken Burns documentary?
These guys love to call liberals elitists, and sometimes liberals earn the label.
But if you look at where public funding for the arts and the humanities really goes, it goes in large part to rural areas where people can't just take a city bus to downtown Madison for a symphony concert or to the University of Wisconsin campus, where museums and musical recitals are free and plentiful.
A budget is a moral document. Much of the Trump budget will never be enacted, but it displays the president's vision of America.
Likewise the Paul Ryan health care budget, a budget that, among other things, takes away about $800 million in funds to help the poor and gives the wealthiest Americans a tax cut worth about $800 million over 10 years.
That budget, too, is unlikely ever to become law. But it does show the values of the Janesville congressman who is now speaker of the House. He is willing to jeopardize the health care of America's poorest people (and also the financial stability of almost every rural hospital in Wisconsin) in order to please the richest among us.
And where does half that Medicaid spending go? It goes to provide nursing home care for the elderly who have burned through their savings and are now indigent. A couple of years in a nursing home will burn through the life's savings of many of us.
And what's one program that does a good job of helping old people stay in their homes before they truly need nursing home care? Meals on Wheels.
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