Dr. Ben Carson: Prepared to Serve, but Challenged
29 December 2016
President-Elect Donald Trump selected Dr. Ben Carson as his nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Immediately, several prominent Democrats, including Representative Nancy Pelosi, House Minority (Democratic) Leader, and Senator Chuck Schumer, recently-elected Senate Minority (Democratic) Leader, declared Carson unqualified for the job. My suggestion is that Democrats should press this “unqualified” argument to the fullest possible extent. If so, they will prove, beyond any remaining doubt, the amazing and destructive depth of their hypocrisy.
Herein is the hypocrisy. With few exceptions, anytime a Republican questions the qualifications or actions of President Barack Obama, the Democrats’ response is to cry “racism.” However, apparently without serious thought, Pelosi and Schumer declared Carson, also black, unqualified. I say, “without serious thought”, because of, in part, a statement by Schumer. That statement is reported in an article by Lauren Fox titled, “Chuck Schumer Really Doesn’t Think Ben Carson Is Qualified For HUD:”
“’I have serious concerns about Dr. Carson’s lack of expertise and experience in dealing with housing issues,’ Schumer said in a statement. ‘Someone who is as anti-government as him is a strange fit for Housing Secretary, to say the least. As he moves through the confirmation process, Americans deserve to know that their potential HUD Secretary is well versed in housing policy and has a vision for federal housing programs that meets the needs of Americans across the country and seeks to provide access to those that we haven’t reached already.’”
Obama ascended to the presidency after being a community organizer, teacher, civil rights lawyer, Illinois State Senator, and U.S. Senator. According to CNN Fact Check, he served in the U.S. Senate 768 days from the start of his career in that body to February 10, 2007, when he formally announced his candidacy for president. That’s 2.1 years. None of this provided much preparation or experience for being president. Question Obama’s qualifications and you are a racist. On the other hand, the racism charge does not come into play when Carson’s qualifications are challenged. There is something wrong with this picture.
Beyond the racism hypocrisy is what shows through where Schumer says, “Someone who is as anti-government as him is a strange fit for Housing Secretary, to say the least.” He recognizes Carson will not continue the failed “government as usual” approaches of HUD. From the department’s website at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD, their mission is as follows:
“HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and transform the way HUD does business.”
Consider the programs or efforts HUD has in place for pursuing achievement of that mission. At
portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=HUDPrograms2016.pdf there are 146 pages of HUD programs. Granted, not every page is completely filled with text. This is a combination of grants, loan guarantees, and subsidies. Each program lists eligible parties. The range of eligible recipients includes individuals, state and local governments, and nonprofits. There are also grants and loan guarantees designated for specific groups, such as Historically Black Colleges, Hispanics, and Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions. A prime example of the subsidies follows:
“Renewal of Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance: Through Project-Based Section 8 Rental Assistance, HUD assists more than 1.2 million extremely low-, low- and very low-income families in obtaining decent, safe, and sanitary housing. Nature of Program: HUD renews Section 8 project-based housing assistance payments (“HAP”) contracts with owners of multifamily rental housing. The project-based rental assistance makes up the difference between what an extremely low-, low-, or very low-income household can afford and the approved rent for an adequate housing unit in a multifamily project. Eligible tenants must pay the highest of 30 percent of adjusted income, 10 percent of gross income, or the portion of welfare assistance designated for housing or the minimum rent established by HUD.”
Chuck Schumer knows Ben Carson will upset this passing out of government money that makes people dependent on government and, consequently, submissive to the control of those who hold the purse-strings. The Senator is aware of Carson’s conviction reflected in him saying at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference as reported by the New York Daily News:
“We need to understand what true compassion is to reach out to individuals who think that being dependent is reasonable as long as they feel safe. It’s not compassion to pat them on the head and say, ‘There, there, I’m going to take care of all your needs, your health care, your food.’ That’s the opposite of compassion.”
Schumer and other Democrats know this thinking at HUD will make great strides toward achieving the department’s stated mission and, thereby, set millions free of the guarantee they will vote for Democrats. This is not about Carson being unqualified…it is about losing control of votes. My hope is that Democrats do not intentionally make people dependent, but that is the result of their maintaining the current HUD approach.
Another means of control is to have people believe you are on their side. In part, Democrats do this by pitting low-income Americans against those who are more affluent. In that process, they take some actions that appear supportive of the low-income group at the expense of the more affluent. A case in point is HUD’s rule on affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH). A primary result of municipalities implementing this rule would be building affordable housing in more affluent areas. I contend one message in this effort is to low-income persons and says that they are being supported over those of higher income.
Ben Carson assesses AFFH in an opinion piece titled, “Experimenting with failed socialism again.” Carson opens by comparing this effort to that of busing in the 1970s. He writes, “Remember busing, that brilliant social experiment that was to usher in a new era of racial utopia in America?” This opening statement is followed by a factual and very thoughtful assessment of the busing failure and how the same result will come of AFFH. Carson concludes:
“There are reasonable ways to use housing policy to enhance the opportunities available to lower-income citizens, but based on the history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous.”
This is not the kind of thinking welcomed by Democrats, or even the Washington establishment. However, it is what we need. It threatens “business as usual” and produces positive results. The normal approach of most government types is to focus on political consequences and not on thoughtful examination of issues and applicable facts, followed by identification of real solutions and implementation of those solutions. Whether it is in an operating room or running a governmental department, the effectiveness of executing these steps has been proven time and time again.
Anybody who doubts Dr. Ben Carson will surround himself with top quality people at HUD and bring to that department the solution-oriented approach that is so rare in government should give some attention to his life journey. It moves from poverty in a single-parent home headed by his mother to an astonishing medical career that required identifying talent and organizing for success.
Schumer, Pelosi, and others like them aren’t concerned about Carson’s qualifications to lead HUD. They know he will be a “swamp drainer” and that is not good for Democrats, or even the routine of Washington. Contrary to what Washington has produced for years, it is great for America.