That’s the most common argument in favor of block grants, but it’s not true. Most block grants have few accountability measures that keep track of how states spend block-granted money. As a result, block grants often become slush funds that states use for a variety of other purposes—such as filling budget gaps—rather than spending the money on the program it was intended for.
Take the program created under the 1996 “welfare reform” law, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), for example. Largely because of lack of accountability, just 1 out of every 4 TANF dollars goes to income assistance for families with kids today. That means people who are eligible for the program often don’t get the help that they need. In Mississippi—the poorest state in the country—nearly every single TANF applicant is rejected.