Trump Picks Former Fox News Contributor Ben Carson To Serve As Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development

Carson Has Repeatedly Expressed Opposition To Government Aid For Poor Americans

››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CAT DUFFY

President-elect Donald Trump has selected Dr. Ben Carson to serve as his secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Carson, a former Fox News contributor, has repeatedly said he opposes government efforts to eradicate poverty, and he has a long history of making off-color and offensive remarks during his stint with the network.

Ben Carson Tapped To Be Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development

CNN: “Dr. Ben Carson Will Be Nominated As The Next Secretary Of The Department Of Housing And Urban Development.” On December 5, President-elect Donald Trump announced that Ben Carson will be his nominee for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. According to a statement, Trump wrote that Carson “shares [his] optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans.” According to CNN, Carson had previously “turned down an offer” to run the Department of Health and Human Services “due to his lack of experience running a federal agency.” [CNN.com, 12/5/16]

Carson Was Lauded By Conservatives After Using Speech Alongside Obama To Push Right-Wing Ideology On Taxes, Health Care

At The 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, Carson Called For Flat Tax, Conservative Health Care Policy. In his keynote address at the February 7, 2013, National Prayer Breakfast -- delivered steps from President Obama, who was seated at the head table -- Carson made conservative arguments about health care, tax policy, and the national debt. The Atlantic's David A. Graham wrote:

Carson delivered an opening shot against "political correctness," and then - after namechecking Tocqueville, recapping his own inspirational life story, and calling for a better education system -- voiced concern about the national debt and argued the case for a flat tax, using the Bible's injunction to tithe a set percentage, and for health-savings accounts, a medical option that has gained currency among conservatives. Crucially, he delivered this speech from a podium just feet from President Obama, who of course oversaw the passage of a very different health-care plan and has been a major proponent of progressive taxation. [The Atlantic, 2/19/13]

Fox News Figures Praised Carson As An “Amazing” “Star” For His Comments At The National Prayer Breakfast. The week following Carson’s comments at the National Prayer Breakfast, Fox figures praised Carson for his speech. Fox host Sean Hannity asked Carson if he would “ever run for president,” adding that he “would vote for [Carson] in a heartbeat.” Other Fox hosts praised Carson as “a star” who “should be in the next administration, whether it’s Democrat or Republican.” [Media Matters, 2/21/13]

Fox News Hired Ben Carson As A Contributor In October 2013. After making conservative arguments about health care, tax policy, "political correctness" and national debt at the National Prayer Breakfast, Carson became a favorite of the conservative media, especially Fox News. Fox News hired Carson as a contributor in October 2013. [Media Matters, 10/9/13]

Carson Opposes Government Aid In Eradicating Poverty

Carson: Government Shouldn’t Provide Anti-Poverty Aid Because It’s Competing With Charities. In his 2012 book America the Beautiful, Carson called government aid in fighting poverty “wasteful duplication” of efforts by private charities, adding that due to anti-poverty programs “people generally depend on government for everything from health care and education, to a comfortable retirement”:

Our government used to fully understand the role of private-sector charitable organizations in ameliorating the plight of the poor. This is why the government offered tax deductions and exemptions for churches and other charitable organizations. Today the government actually competes with many of these private-sector charities while still offering them tax deductions. How does this wasteful duplication benefit government or us, its citizens? Certainly by creating huge government entitlement programs, the size and power of the government increases dramatically. Before long, people generally depend on government for everything from health care and education, to a comfortable retirement, instead of looking to government for the basic protection of life and property, as well as providing public roads and public safety. [OnTheIssues, 10/1/16]

Carson Said Government Aid Like Housing Subsidies Purposely Keeps Poor Americans Dependent On Government. At an October 2015 event for his A More Perfect Union book tour, Carson characterized government aid to poor Americans -- specifically mentioning housing subsidies and food stamps -- as “false compassion”:

Carson, who grew up in poverty to become one of the world’s leading neurosurgeons, said he had “no desire whatsoever to hurt the poor ... but I believe in true compassion, providing the poor with a mechanism to climb the ladder of success,” Carson said.

“False compassion is patting them on the head and saying, ‘You can’t take care of yourself and I’m going to give you food stamps, a housing subsidy and free health care and all the things you need so you can stay dependent and vote for me.’” [Gainesville Times, 10/11/15]

During His Time As A Fox News Contributor, Carson Made Strange And Offensive Remarks

Carson Likened The Affordable Care Act To Socialism By Using A Fake Quote He Attributed To Vladimir Lenin. On his first appearance as a Fox contributor, Carson used a fake quote to criticize the Affordable Care Act, telling Fox host Megyn Kelly that “Vladimir Lenin, one of the founders of socialism and communism, he said socialized medicine is the keystone of the arch to the socialist state. In other words, you've got to get the socialized medicine as the foundation because it gives you control of the people. Once you have control of them, you can do what you want.” Days after Carson’s appearance, The Baltimore Sun consulted several experts on socialized medicine and Lenin and reported that Lenin never said any such thing. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 10/9/13; The Baltimore Sun, 10/12/13]

Carson Said The United States Under President Obama Is “Very Much Like Nazi Germany.” In comments to Breitbart.com explaining his previous assertion that American citizens are living in “a Gestapo age,” Carson claimed that, under President Obama, the United States is “very much like Nazi Germany,” adding, “I know you're not supposed to say Nazi Germany, but I don't care about political correctness.” Over two months later, Carson defended this comparison on CNN’s Crossfire, saying, “the people in Nazi Germany did not, most of them, believe in what Hitler was doing,” and “I was using that as an example of how dangerous that can be, and I’m making a point to the American people that, if in fact you feel differently about what’s going on, you should not be shut up.” [Breitbart.com, 3/12/14; CNN, Crossfire, 5/28/14]

Carson Said The Affordable Care Act "Is The Worst Thing That Has Happened In This Nation Since Slavery.” At the 2013 Values Voter Summit, Ben Carson said that the Affordable Care Act “is, really, I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” then added that, “it is slavery, in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government.” Nearly two weeks later on Fox News, Carson again defended his comments, saying that his comments were “real close to the truth,” and that he faced backlash from critics who wish “to change the subject” from “the real issue,” which is “government trying to take control of our lives.” [Values Voter Summit, 10/11/13; Fox News, America's News HQ, 10/27/13]

Ben Carson Likened Gay Americans To Pedophiles And Bestiality Supporters. When asked to comment on a 2013 Supreme Court case involving the question of marriage equality, Carson said the idea that marriage is “between a man and a woman” is “a well-established, fundamental pillar of society,” and asserted that “no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality” is allowed “to change the definition” of marriage. In his 2014 book One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future, Carson claimed he didn’t know until after this comment that gay people find bestiality comparisons “particularly abhorrent,” and complained about “gay activists” who accused him “of being a homophobe.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/26/13; Media Matters, 5/19/14]

Carson Claimed AP History Curriculum Would Make Students “Ready To Go Sign Up For ISIS.” At the anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy’s September 2014 summit, Carson criticized the “AP course in American history that’s being taught in high schools,” claiming that “most people when they finish that course, they’d be ready to go sign up for ISIS.” He bemoaned the fact that books dedicated “only two paragraphs” to “George Washington,” but dedicated “a whole section on slavery and how evil we are,” and “a whole section on how we wiped out American Indians with no mercy.” [Media Matters, 9/29/14]

Carson: Russia’s Putin Is Right For Calling America "Godless." In a February 12, 2014, column for Townhall, Carson mused that the former Soviet Union -- once pilloried as the "godless, evil empire" -- has long since overtaken the United States in the realm of "Christian values." Carson lauded Russia's religious conservatism while endorsing Putin's recent remarks suggesting that the U.S. and western Europe have become "godless":

We used to characterize the Soviet Union as a godless, evil empire. Like many societies based on communism or socialism, the Soviets saw fit to minimize the importance of God and, in many cases, wreaked unimaginable persecution on religious people.

Why is faith in God anathema to such states? It's because they need to remove any authority other than themselves as the arbiter of right and wrong.

Interestingly, last year Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized Euro-Atlantic countries, including the United States, of becoming godless and moving away from Christian values. Some may bristle at such an accusation, but when you consider that many Americans are hesitant even to mention God or Jesus in public, there may be some validity to his claim.We also casually have tossed out many of the principles espoused in the Bible and have concluded that there's no authority greater than man himself.

[...]

As secular progressives try to remove all vestiges of God from our society, let us remember the godly principles of loving our fellow man, caring about our neighborhoods, developing our God-given talents to the utmost so that we become valuable to the people around us, and maintaining high principles that govern our lives. Our Judeo-Christian values led this nation to the pinnacle of the world in record time. If we embrace them, they will keep us there.

While we Americans are giving a cold shoulder to our religious heritage, the Russians are warming to religion. The Russians seem to be gaining prestige and influence throughout the world as we are losing ours. I wonder whether there is a correlation. [Townhall, 2/12/14, via Media Matters]

Carson Called Veterans Affairs Scandal “A Gift From God,” Despite Veterans Dying. When questioned about the scandals occurring at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in May 2014, Carson said, “I think what’s happening with veterans is a gift from God” because it “show[s] us what happens when you take layers and layers of bureaucracy and place them between the patients and the health care provider.” The Fox host noted after Carson’s comment that some veterans had died. [Fox News, America’s News HQ, 5/24/14]

Carson Downplayed Domestic Violence In America: “I’m Not Sure That’s True” That It’s A “Terrible Plague.” During a discussion about the Ray Rice domestic violence case with Fox host Bill O’Reilly, Carson stated, “I’m not sure that’s true” in response to O’Reilly describing domestic violence as “a terrible plague.” Carson recommended empathy for Rice because “demonizing people” is not “the right thing to do,” claiming that “we’re all human beings,” and he referenced the time when “as a teenager” he tried “to stab someone.” From the September 12, 2014, edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

BILL O'REILLY (HOST): So Doctor, you almost sound a little sympathetic to Ray Rice, although I understand you want to cure whatever disease Mr. Rice has. You're a physician, that's your job. But shouldn't we demonize him and others like him to send a message that this can't happen in America, this kind of violence?

BEN CARSON: Well, I'm not sure that demonizing people is ever the right thing to do. That doesn't mean that I don't think that appropriate punishment should be given. We're all punished for what we do. There are consequences for bad behavior.

But you also need to recognize that these are human beings. We're all human beings. I remember as a teenager trying to stab someone, had it not been for that belt buckle, I would probably would have been in jail or reform school.

[...]

O'REILLY: But Doctor, you know how many millions of men do that? It's not an isolated deal. It's a terrible plague.

CARSON: I'm not sure that's true. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 9/12/14]

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