Ben Carson is proving to be the bizarre and incompetent Secretary of Housing and Urban Development w
Nothing like getting thrown out on the street with 2 kids and a $7.25-per-hour job to give you the tools to achieve
Since neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson was sworn in as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on March 2, we’ve barely heard a peep from him. Is it because he’s adjusting to his new position, for which he has no relevant experience? Probably. Is it because, as his surrogate said, that he’s not qualified to run a federal agency? Could be that, too.
Apparently there’s been “an atmosphere of paranoia and guardedness that has enveloped HUD since Trump’s inauguration,” according to a former HUD official under Barack Obama, as reported by Next City.
In his first public remarks as head of HUD in early March, Carson tragically stumbled by referring to slaves as “immigrants.” On March 15, Carson began a “listening tour,” dipping his toes into public scrutiny by traveling to cities in Florida, Michigan and Texas to visit buildings and programs that HUD played a hand in creating. In several awkward cases, Carson has praised an initiative only to find out that Donald Trump’s budget blueprint would eliminate the programs that funded those very projects.
According to a trustee for Dallas County Schools, Carson “and his staff have avoided widely advertising the trip.” His trip to Texas wasn’t announced until hours before his first event, according to CityLab. Carson’s secrecy “may have something to do with the fact that Secretary Carson would rather not have to answer to the public and defend the outrageous budget cuts he and Donald Trump are trying to ram through Congress,” the trustee wrote.
Trump’s proposal cuts $6.2 billion from HUD, or 13.2 percent of its annual budget, by slashing public housing support and development grants. The budget gets rid of the 42-year-old, $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Choice Neighborhoods program and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program.
“We’ve spent a lot of money on Housing and Urban Development over the last decade without a lot to show for it,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. “Certainly, there are some successes but there are a lot of programs that simply cannot justify their existence and that’s where we zeroed in.” Meanwhile, according to CNBC, the Community Development Block Grant program provided housing assistance to nearly 74,000 households, gave public services to nine million Americans and created over 17,000 jobs in 2016 alone. But somehow Mulvaney can’t, or won’t, acknowledge these successes as he touts his budget blueprint that will hit the poor in almost every way possible.
Carson has attempted to defend the cuts to the public, and his past statements show he’s likely on board with them. The new HUD secretary has frequently claimed that with government subsidies, people are not incentivized to get off the federal dole. Carson has made some pretty outrageous statements including that poverty is “really more of a choice than anything else.”
Nothing like getting thrown out on the street with two kids and a $7.25-per-hour job to give you the tools to achieve the American dream.
The proposed Trump budget also eliminates a $1.4 billion-per-year disaster relief program within HUD while adding $700 million to the Department of Homeland Security’s disaster funding. The means that the Trump administration wants to cut disaster relief by $800 million, or 9.4 percent. The cuts are part of an effort to take billions from non-defense agencies and send them directly to the Pentagon.
In typical conservative lingo, the budget claims, “State and local governments are better positioned to serve their communities based on local needs and priorities.” How they’ll do that, when they’re already strapped for cash, is unclear. Seeing as 19 states refused to give millions of uninsured residents health care by expanding Medicaid—initially 100 percent subsidized by the federal government—it’s hard to imagine how they’ll bend over backward to help the poor with funding taken away from them.
Carson began his listening tour at Ben Carson High School of Science and Medicine, a Detroit public school named after him that is a “Michigan Future School,” meaning it receives support from the nonprofit Michigan Future, a project of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, which supports charter schools. While Ben Carson High is not a charter, Michigan Future has made numerous six-figure donations to several charters in Detroit.
The next day, Carson had lunch at a restaurant made possible by the Motor City Match program, which helps Detroit businesses establish themselves and grow via grants, loans and counseling funded in part by HUD’s Community Development Block Grants. Carson praised the program on Twitter while his agency is set to eliminate it.