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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

By John Fritze, The Baltimore Sun (TNS)

BALTIMORE — Ben Carson, the retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who announced his presidential campaign this week, returned to Baltimore on Thursday to tell community leaders that the way to relieve tensions with police and help impoverished neighborhoods is to fix the nation’s economy.

Carson, who on Monday entered the rapidly growing field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination, largely sidestepped direct questions about police cameras and the high rate of incarceration in African-American communities — suggesting that reducing taxes and regulations would restart an economic engine that would benefit everyone.

“The economy has a lot to do with that,” Carson told a member of the audience who asked specifically about policing.

“Most of the people that I have heard from in the political arena, they say, ‘One of the big solutions to our problems is we have to remove the entitlements,'” Carson said. “And I say, no, what you have to do is fix the economy. … When people have viable options, that’s when you start pulling entitlements.”

Carson, a 63-year-old Florida resident who has never before run for office, spent nearly two hours taking questions from a few dozen community members and a handful of reporters packed into a conference room at the Bilingual Church of Baltimore east of Armistead Gardens — on the other side of the city from where riots took place last week.

The former Baltimore County resident, who had a celebrated career leading the pediatric neurosurgery department at Johns Hopkins Hospital, weighed in directly on one issue: whether State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby overreached in charging the six officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, who died from injuries sustained while in police custody.

“I probably wouldn’t have charged them to that degree,” Carson told the group. “But then again, I’m not a lawyer.”

Carson promoted school choice as a way to address beleaguered inner-city schools and argued for giving patients vouchers to pay for medical care rather than relying on Medicaid. He suggested teaching young black students about the contributions African-Americans have made to the country’s development so that they can be inspired to achieve.

“Once you get into the penal system, it gets really hard to get out of it,” he said. “That’s why we need to get to them before that happens.”

He also spoke at a Maryland Right to Life banquet late Thursday.

Carson saw his political star rise after he delivered a fiery address at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in 2013. He criticized President Barack Obama’s policies a few feet from the president at the traditionally nonpartisan event. Talk of a possible White House run began circulating soon after.

Carson faces significant challenges in his campaign. Among them will be distinguishing himself from other conservatives in the race, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Marco Rubio of Florida as well as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Other prominent GOP figures, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also are expected to run.

Though he lacks political experience, Carson arguably has the most compelling personal story of any candidate. Born into poverty in Detroit, Carson initially struggled academically. But he went on to graduate from Yale and the University of Michigan’s medical school.

At 33, he was named director of pediatric neurosurgery at Hopkins, the youngest person to lead a major division at the institution. He won international acclaim in 1987 when he became the first surgeon to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head.

His first book, Gifted Hands, was made into a television movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr. In the book, Carson describes how he overcame early struggles with school and anger through a love of reading and faith.

(c)2015 The Baltimore Sun, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

  • Lynda Groom

    Boy would it be nice if the problems of the world were just so simple. Fact is that the economy goes up, it goes down and poverty in one form or another remains. Employment has always been considered full at the unemployment rate of about 5%. Poverty remains. Just making a simplistic remark that fixing the economy would fix the problem is just too simplistic. He’s a neophyte in the field of politics and economic theory and it shows.

    • Independent1

      Absolutely. Actually, about 6-8 months ago, I read an article from a group of economists that had set 5.4- 5.6% as what they projected as full employment. The group had set those percentages to partly ensure that as the economy grows, including technology wise, that new and expanding companies have a sufficient pool of reasonably well qualified individuals still unemployed to provide those new and expanding companies with a base of qualified candidates to hire.

      If the economy has a problem these days, it’s not with an insufficient number of jobs, its that there aren’t enough good paying jobs outside of new technology companies which are actually having trouble finding qualified candidates. Too many CEOs and entrepreneurs today have picked up on lessons learned from Reagan and Romney – and have restructured their companies to reduce to as few as possible, the number of better paying employees they will hire; unless they’re forced to pay high wages because the positions they want to fill are in advanced technology areas where they have to pay high wages because they need to attract the limited number of qualified applicants available..

      • Lynda Groom

        Exactly and spot on.

  • Sand_Cat

    Well, fixing the economy in the inner cities would help; at least he isn’t calling for further police abuse of the residents.

    • Independent1

      Unfortunately, Dr. Carson is making it clear that having the talent to perform great surgery, is not the same as having the intelligence to govern a country or to even offer worthwhile suggestions for ‘fixing an economy’.

      With all his supposed intelligence, his solution to fixing the economy is to reduce taxes and regulations??? Ideas that are maybe 100 years old, been tried countless times and have never worked???

      “Carson, who on Monday entered the rapidly growing field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination, largely sidestepped direct questions about police cameras and the high rate of incarceration in African-American communities — suggesting that reducing taxes and regulations would restart an economic engine that would benefit everyone.”

      Sorry but Ben Carson’s intelligence beyond being a talented surgeon are becoming very suspect.

      • Sand_Cat

        Yeah, I really have no use for the guy; just trying to be nice.

      • dpaano

        How does he expect to do anything for the economy if we don’t have the money from taxes to pay for it? It’s totally illogical, but that’s the conservative standpoint…..why be logical?

  • porter

    This is the best that republican have to offer me , a black American ,a back doctor one of the best and his answer to fixing the problem between the police and the black community is the to fix the economy that’s all well and good. Doc news flash the reason is not so much about the economy as it is about trust ,see the black community my community has little reason too. We read the newspaper watch the news on T.V. hell most of us even know about the web .When we see someone who is not rich be they a poor white child or a Latino or black get more time for the same crime then that rich white kid or black kid why should we trust them. Doc. for a smart man you don’t understand what the hell you are talking about. JUST SAYING

  • Dominick Vila

    There is no question that the economic malaise that has prevailed in our inner cities for decades is a contributing factor to the frustration and unrest we are seeing. However, discovering this circumstance at a time when the national unemployment rate is at 5.4%, companies are posting profits and hiring, foreclosures and bankruptcies are back to normal levels, the real estate market – including new construction – is bouncing back, and the DOW Index is at an all time record is suspicious, or cynical, to say the least.
    What Dr. Carson is ignoring is that the protests we are seeing nation wide have little to do with economic problems in the inner cities, which are very real and need resolution, but with recurring and frequent acts of police brutality, a justice system that does not protect the rights of all Americans, and the conviction – real or perceived – that African Americans are not treated the same way, and do not have the same opportunities, as their white counter parts.

    • nebulafox

      Correct, although I think economic issues have more to do with it than you think. The ghetto has been in a recession ever since the 70s, whatever the case on the outside.

      That would take a bottom-up approach on a local and state level to solve, I think. Top-down approaches, such as attempted in the 60s, can be used as augmentation, but would descend into being both vulnerable to attack from the right and into bureaucratic corruption and platitudes from the left if used as the main solution.

      I don’t see anyone proposing that, sadly.

  • nana4gj

    It’s bizarre that Carson cannot connect the link of access to healthcare with the economic benefits to society and calls ACA’s access to healthcare “slavery”.

    He cannot assimilate. He compartmentalizes, and, as with many Republicans, for some reason, they cannot apply their ideology or their policies to the realities of the human condition or to society at large. He only knows what he knows, and, as with all of the rest of them, they end up with theories, only theories that are not applicable with any successful outcome.

    Society at large cannot even depend upon quality public education anymore, much less educational assistance to pursue their potential to become noted brain surgeons.

  • stsintl

    I feel sorry for this guy, who has sacrificed his lifetime career and service to humanity for a few weeks of limelight in the media. Being a smart surgeon, he knows well that he has as much a chance of being a GOP nominee for President, let alone winning the national election, as lightening striking him on the golf course. What goes wrong with these people who think they belong to this extremist “Gang Of Pirates” political party?

  • nebulafox

    I think a lot of what he said in the article makes sense, even if I don’t agree with all of it. He isn’t stupid, at least. That’s more than you can say for many GOP candidates.

    Problem is, this won’t overcome whatever socially conservative ideas he has that a lot of people think are nuts, myself included.

  • dpaano

    You know, I get tired of people talking about taking away “entitlements.” I paid into Social Security for over 50 years so that I would have money to help me in my retirement. So, to my way of thinking, I worked for that money and, as such, I’m honestly entitled to it! Why do our politicians keep trying to make it seem like a bad thing that we planned ahead for our retirement so we wouldn’t be a drain on our children and our country? That, along with my 401(k) plan and my hard-earned Army pension is all I will have to support me in retirement, and I’m damn well entitled to it! If anyone tries to take it away from me, they’ve got a big lawsuit coming!! I worked for that money, paid out of my paycheck!! It’s NOT an entitlement, it was an investment for my old age!

    • Independent1

      Absolutely, Social Security has absolutely nothing to do with any deficits; or government spending. The GOP trying to privatize that is just one way for them to try and get their hands on what’s now 2.8 trillion in the SS Trust Fund. Despite all the negative rhetoric about SS, the Trust Fund has continued to grow while Obama has been in office – more than 1/2 a trillion has been added.

      Even though contributions from workers and companies today are not enough to cover benefits and they have to dip into the trust fund, interest on the fund’s balance is greater than what they’re having to withdraw from the fund, so the fund balance keeps growing. One thing that would help extend the life of the fund, is if Congress would pass Obama’s jobs bill that would create about 2 million jobs according to the CBO. Those added jobs would mean more monies being contributed to SS which would automatically extend the that the fund would continue to support the existing benefits. As you point out, GOP politicians have NO BUSINESS monkeying around with SS.

      Medicare is a little different story as the premiums that we contribute don’t cover the benefits that Medicare pays out, so it is somewhat of a drain on the general funds; especially since Bush and the irresponsible GOP Congress during his time in office, added the prescription drug benefit without doing anything to fund it(like raising taxes on the rich).

      • dpaano

        I agree also…..I was smart. I married a man 15 years younger than me, and if I have it figured correctly, I won’t have to go on Medicare until I’m 85 years old – LOL!!! I intend to work until I’m 75; then go on my husband’s medical plan until he retires. So, I won’t be draining the Medicare account any time soon!!! See, good pre-planning is a must!!!