Perhaps the most well-known block grant (and the one Paul Ryan wants to use as a model for other programs) is TANF. The law converted a cash assistance program known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) into a block grant now known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Since the funding is set at a fixed dollar amount, it has helped fewer and fewer families over the years—down from supporting two-thirds of eligible families in 1996 to just one-quarter of eligible families today. (For more on how and why that happened, see our explainer on TANF.)
Other significant block grants include the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Ironically, these programs have long been targets for elimination by conservatives, who claim they’re not accountable enough. Donald Trump’s most recent budget, for example, calls for full elimination of CDBG—which helps fund things like affordable housing, Meals on Wheels, and natural disaster recovery.
Conservatives will often support block-granting federally guaranteed programs, thereby making them less accountable, and then support eliminating block granted programs precisely because they are not accountable. Rinse and repeat.