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Monday, November 20, 2017

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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.

On March 30, Carson attended a youth baseball game hosted by the Dallas Housing Authority, and the next day he popped into a Dallas Habitat for Humanity facility for a mere 15 minutes. In 2015, Carson publicly opposed an anti-housing segregation provision of the Fair Housing Act, strengthened by a Supreme Court ruling involving Dallas, calling it a “mandated social engineering scheme.”

Then he moved on to Florida. In Jacksonville on April 11, he stopped at a poorly maintained low-income apartment building that’s part of HUD’s project-based Section 8 program, which provides residents with rental assistance. Carson praised housing vouchers, but Trump’s budget proposal would cut $600 million from Section 8 programs, which include vouchers and project-based initiatives.

Next, Carson hit Miami and visited an apartment complex that includes dozens of units for the homeless and low-income residents. A supportive housing group built the complex mostly with federal funding, including $1.5 million from the HOME program that the Trump administration wants to cut. The building wouldn’t exist without HOME, said the president of the supportive housing organization. And Miami sees $4 million a year in development block grants, which the city will say goodbye to if the Trump budget passes.

On the tour, the education secretary has heaped praise on public-private partnerships, which already make up a good portion of affordable housing projects. “I just really appreciate the fact that we are starting to learn as a nation that it’s the private-public partnerships that work because there’s almost unlimited money in the private sector,” said Carson.

Carson hasn’t offered specifics on his plans for the agency, and what he did say isn’t reassuring to people who depend on affordable housing. “I would forget the numbers and think about the concept,” said Carson in Detroit. “The concept is we’re going to take care of our people.”

“The parts of these programs that are functioning well—and that are maintaining people—are going to be preserved,” Carson said vaguely in Miami, without giving details on how the programs will survive the massive cuts in the budget blueprint.

Carson, like Trump, has yet to fill many key positions in his department. According to the HUD website, all eight assistant secretary positions are vacant, as well as the “president,” chief information officer and chief operations officer. All ten regional administrators are missing as well as many deputy assistant secretaries. Unlike some heads of other agencies, Carson has actually kept on a number of staffers from the Obama administration, although his Deputy Chief of Staff is Deana Bass, a GOP operative who was press secretary for his campaign.

As Carson attempts to begin making changes to HUD policy, at least one group is following his moves closely. CarsonWatch is “a grassroots campaign” launched by nonprofit lawyers’ group Public Advocates and funded by three housing and justice organizations including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, according to CityLab. The site offers news updates and opportunities to “take action.”

The website reads, “CarsonWatch is committed to stopping President Trump, HUD Secretary Ben Carson and their congressional allies from any attempts to roll back fair housing protections and undermine the housing security of millions of Americans.”

Alex Kotch is an independent investigative journalist based in Brooklyn, NY. Follow him on Twitter at @alexkotch.

 
This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

79 Responses to Ben Carson Is Proving To Be A Bizarre And Incompetent Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development, As Expected

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    • And many more will be “living it” once Mulvaney gets his budget passed. The most we can hope for is that the Democrats in our government do NOT sign off on such a ridiculous budget! Defunding many of the programs in many of the departments is totally insane and will NOT do a thing to help Trump’s uninformed, brainwashed followers!

        • Isn’t that pretty much what we have in the Oval Office already…..Trump is so busy going golfing every chance he has….he’s NEVER in the office doing his job! He’s delegated his job out to so many others, including his son-in-law, that he doesn’t do a damned thing! He’s useless as a president! Whatever happened to him telling his followers that he was “rarely going to leave the White House.” He’s going to “be too busy to golf?” Apparently, those were just more of his BS that he used to con them!

      • When the millennials are finally in charge of this country, I wonder what they’ll tell their children about this period of our history. Assuming that we haven’t been nuked out of existence.

        • I have to agree….according to Trump’s latest, we can expect a war with North Korea in the very near future! It’s easy for him to say since Mar-a-Lago isn’t in the flight path of one of Kim’s nuclear bombs, but California certainly is. Of course, Trump would probably think that losing California would be a blessing (now if he could only figure out how to get rid of New York)……

          • Or Guam…..but still, it’s scary to think that he’d lob one over on California one of these days if things get REALLY dicey!

          • I believe he would aim for Hawaii since it is actually a state. But you are right…the West Coast possibility is very frightening.

          • It’ll get rid of those pesky 3 million votes!!!! It was spoken of on NPR this morning that every leader with whom he meets, he breaks down the electoral votes, showing this yuge win he had. THAT is a sick puppy!! My jaw fell when I heard this.

          • Yes, he just doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to believe the truth. He lies so much, he thinks EVERYONE lies! Unfortunately, there’s proof of HIS lies!

          • But, we can always hope that the rising waters from melting ice will flood Mar-a-Lago. That would be just as funny as it getting blown up!!!

          • No need to flood Mar-A-Lago, or blow it up.
            It’s Florida, dpaano. A small starter batch of fleas, bedbugs, roaches, and mosquitoes should do the trick.

          • So true, but I’d LOVE to see the melting ice floes turn Mar-a-Lago into a mud puddle!!! It would be SO apropos, don’t you agree? I already hear that Florida is having problems with rising water along its seashore…..but, remember, climate change is a hoax (LOL)!!!

    • Rick Perry, so far seems to have a clue. I will keep an eye on him. I think now he reads and is getting an understanding. It makes me wonder how many of them are saying one thing but really believe another. Sad!!

  1. Ben Carson—-Lord have mercy on us! I can’t begin to express the exasperation that comes over me, and I’m sure millions of others feel the same.

    What a pathetic example of an excellent mind gone to waste. Why and how Carson became completely mentally incapacitated is hard to explain. Was it a belief in some religious sect whose distorted interpretation of Biblical Text(Old and New Testament) deviates radically from what Christianity stands for? Because if so, everything issuing from the lips of Ben is outlandish to put it mildly, and violates the spirit and the intent of the Message of Jesus. I would infer, based on the distortion of the Message premise,
    that Ben’s mind has been filled with so many distortions of Christianity as to render him senseless and irrational.

    The other possible premise is that since becoming entangled in partisan politics, and further confused by the mixed messages of Conservative ideology which has aided and abetted the resurrection of racist sentiments, nationalist rhetoric, and continued the broadcast of the gospel of Greed, SUPPLANTING in the hearts of conservatives(and various other partisans) the Real Religion as enshrined in the Essence of the Messages of Jesus, and of Buddha, Muhammad, and others; and now in the renewal of the ESSENCE of Religion in what has been presented to humankind across the globe, by Baha’u’llah.

    Back to my original line of thought—There is a 3rd possibility that there is a combination of the two aforementioned premises at work responsible for erasing all vestiges of rational thought, leaving Dr. Carson with a mind with a sign “THIS SPACE FOR RENT”.

    And dare I say, there may be the possibility, tongue-in-cheek, that some malevolent visitors from another dimension have taken Dr. Carson to their realm, did some probing, and mistakenly altered his mind considerably. Causing Dr. Carson to make up the most lurid, unscientific, historically inaccurate, and utter the most fantastically idiotic pronouncements, which no university/medical student and former neurosurgeon would dare assert, even in their sleep.

    • Carson self-lobotomized to get on the republican party grift train. They accept only genuine stupid – pretend stupid is too dangerous.

          • Can you please provide some VALID links that prove what you’re saying or are you like your idol, Trump…..lie and expect people to believe it? Seriously?

          • Google it yourself. But, there was wide vote fraud in Pennsylvania and Boston just for two examples. You idiot it was in the news in 2008 and 2012. It’ not my problem that moron like you would miss it since you follow fake news that never posts anything truthfully.

          • First of all, your comment is typical of most trolls on this site….you can’t provide ANY proof of what you say, so you expect ME to do it for you. Secondly, President Obama was FAR from being an idiot, but apparently you’re brainwashed by the GOP BS that is constantly spilling out of FAUX News (which, by the way, along with Breitbart is the biggest purveyor of false news in the media world).
            As for calling me a “moron,” I did not call you any names, and I find it hard to understand why you think you have the right to call me names! You don’t know me, and just because I don’t totally agree with what you say does NOT make me an moron. But, what it DOES make you is a total fool! You can continue to believe all the BS that you’ve been fed while most of us on this site know the truth.

          • DO YOUR OWN WORK. You’re just lazy. I expect nothing of you. obama is a son of satan himself. And you are his supporter.

  2. He said nice things about Trump so he gets a job, doesn’t matter one bit that he knows nothing about HUD, plus he needed a black guy. A case can be made for a president to learn on the job a bit (except for the current one) but the least we can expect is that the cabinet positions are qualified people

    • I wish I could say that most Americans did not vote deliberately for a gang of apprentices, but the signs of incompetence were obvious throughout the campaign, and that did not stop 36 states to vote for Trump. The worst part, is that in the face of incontrovertible evidence, his followers continue to support him and are convinced he, and one of the most incompetent staffs in history, are doing a great job. Should we assume that the statements we hear from Trump supporters are evidence of masochism?

      • Or profound ignorance. Talking with a Trump supporter is a real head scratching experience at least, but mostly it’s a trip down the rabbit hole. I will never understand the Republican mind. All the “left out” people were positive Trump was going to help them; he is on their side. Yeah, a guy who sits on a gold toilet is going to help YOU. Everything he is proposing is showing that the regular people are in for a royal screwing, and they still don’t understand this. All this, because they get a kick out of how this so called rich man can trash talk with the best of them.

      • I think Trump had a point when he said he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not see any consequences. I have to agree….his followers would probably applaud his actions and say that he was “getting rid of an illegal immigrant” or something along that line! It’s sad that so many of his followers STILL don’t see that they were conned…..what will it take before they final see the light….if they EVER see the light!

        • If, every morning, trump went to a corner of the White House lawn and relieved himself for all to see; instead of outrage, those who voted for him would adopt that as the new acceptable behavior.

      • I see them interviewed while at a doctor getting care they had before since the ACA and they still support Trump

        • They are brainwashed….trust me! They will NEVER admit to having been conned until it hits them in the pocketbook with the new tax plan or the proposed changes to the ACA! And, even then, they’ll STILL think he’s the greatest!

    • Hey! Waddya talking about! He’s qualified! He has lived in a house! He has lived in a city! Isn’t that all he needed?

    • Trump will never be forgiven for what he has done to the country. May be I have killed the messenger. Let me put it correctly: those who voted for Trump to destroy the country, will never be forgiven.

  3. Relying on states that are struggling to make ends meet, to offset the Federal government budget cuts outlined in Trump’s blueprint is a chimera that only the most cynical Republican politician can propose with a straight face. Mulvaney’s budget blueprint is a declaration of war on the poor and, in this case, hundreds of thousands of millenials who need financial assistance to buy their first house. Carson is right about one thing, the private sector has all the money. The problem is that they have not shared their bounty with the less fortunate in the past, and they have not demonstrated any willingness to do so now. Destroying the social fabric of America, while handing billions of profitable corporations and the elite, has little to do with greatness and a lot to do with Lucifer in action. I’ll give this gang the benefit of the doubt and assume they are just plain stupid, and it is not easy to fix stupid.

    • Agreed, but apparently Mnuchin and Mulvaney seem to think that cutting taxes will spur “growth.” It didn’t before when it was tried; it ain’t gonna happen this time either! How many times does trickle down economics have to fail before the Republicans realize that Reagan did NOT have it right! How many people in this nation will end up getting hurt one way or the other? And, who do you think will take the blame…..certainly not Trump!

      • The problem with trickle down is that while it may spur economic growth in the short term, the wealth that flows to corporate America and the elite never filters down to the workforce or the average American. More often than not, it is invested abroad, or ends up in tax shelters overseas.

  4. It is nice to see that he has sunk to the level of expectations for him. That means anything will be an improvement.
    To say that Teflon Donnie has the most unprepared, inexperienced and unqualified cabinet in the history of the office of the Presidency does not do justice to this collection of mooks, morons and buffoons. And Carson is the biggest of them all!

    • It absolutely amazes me that someone like Carson would accept a job that he KNOWS he is totally unqualified to fill! Why does he continue? I foresee him quitting once he realizes that Mulvaney’s budget cuts are going to get blamed on him solely by the people he’s supposed to be representing!

  5. Of course he’s incompetent. Never forget Humpty surrounds himself with incompetent people to make himself feel he is the most intelligent one in the room.

  6. I live in a HUD subsidized facility. I do not receive subsidies my self, I pay full market price for my small apartment and I’m OK with that. The people here run the full range being very impaired requiring 24 hour nursing care to people who go to work everyday. I think most people here, including myself, are living about as indepently as they are capable of. Carson needs to get out and talk to people at these facilities.

    • I believe, according to the article, he has made an attempt (albeit, not a great one), and he doesn’t seem to get the picture. He will follow Trump’s suggestions and do what he’s told to do by the white man……ridiculous and not very productive, especially for people like yourself, Cesar. I hope Mulvaney’s cuts to HUD will not cause you any problems.

  7. This is the type of black man the right loves. He hangs on their every word. When trump denigrated him, he grinned and bore it. I do not like to call people names as a black woman but if this is not the true measure of an uncle tom, I do not know what is. He angers me and I admire him and what he has accomplished. He NEEDS to be accepted by bigoted white people for some reason. The difference between he and Obama. Obama didn’t need that acceptance which is why the media and others loved to blame him for not kissing McConnell’s butt after he pledged not to work with him. Carson would have trailed behind him spouting verse and waiting for crumbs. He and Christie are brothers by different mothers. To watch them both is sad. Yet, with Carson, I am glad my dad isn’t here to see him.

    • I respect Carson for his contributions to his medical acumen, but I do NOT respect him for allowing himself to be used by a president who feels that “unqualified” individuals will do a good job for this nation in important departments!

      • I considered him incompetent for any government job not in a surgery with scalpel in hands to keep them off anything governmental. I have a problem with people who are intelligent but know nothing. He is intelligent but ignorant in ways needed for this job.

        • Why he accepted a job that he KNEW he was unqualified to handle is beyond me. As for his handling a scalpel….I would NOT allow him near my brain EVER!

          • That proves how no one pays attention to him. He said he was not qualified for the job at first. Yet, he still took it. He is so brow beaten he accepted a position for which he is not qualified. That is scary!! Just think if he had fingers on the trigger to North Korea!! THIS is bad enough!! At 68, I remember bomb shelters. I remember the missiles of October and running to the porch to look at the sky. I remember that terror, fear, Nikita Kruchev and his I will bury you. Now, they play badminton between two idiots and act like it is nothing.

          • I’m turning 71, and I, too, remember these things. I remember the sirens in elementary school and hitting the floor under my desk and putting my hands over my neck (as if that would do anything in the case of a nuclear attack). These things were fearful and stressful even for a child, and I can imagine what is going on in our nation now with the threat of a war with North Korea and much of the other actions that this president is taking! It’s all I can do to keep from allowing myself to be stressed also! You learn to live each day as it comes and hope that you’re still around for the next day! With this president, that’s not such a sure thing anymore!

          • That is the scary part. We at least had scifi movies like THEM!, Tarantula, the Giant Gila Monster, etc.(LOLOL) These people today haven’t a clue and Lord, please let me be wrong, I get the impression if a warhead is dropped it will be like the MOAB to them and not fat man and little boy(Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Considering for whom they voted, I do not feel too assured.

          • I remember that movie, THEM, scared the bejeezus out of me. I was the first scary movie I had seen (my sister and her date took me since my mom insisted they have a chaperone). I had nightmares about that movie for years!!! I STILL don’t look at ants the same way! No, these people today have NO clue about what war entails….maybe some of them need to ask some of the Vietnam vets or the vets coming back from Afghanistan. You also notice that NONE of Trump’s minions actually served in a REAL war (as did BOTH my parents and myself), and many of them don’t have young sons or daughters that might be affected or might have to go to war themselves! They need to get some serious skin in the game before they go and make ridiculous comments about starting a war with North Korea (or ANY country for that matter)!

      • I read an autobiography one time, that was written by a Black Woman. When she was little and suffered the insults and injustices to her race, she said she started hating Black people and did not want to be one. When she was older, she straightened and lightened her hair. It was no matter because she was still Black. She reached maturity when she embraced who she was. I think carson hates Black People and thinks if he acts white, he will be accepted into the White circle.

        • The same thing applies to Justice Clarence Thomas. He hates his skin color and of course is married to a white woman. Why they can’t be proud of their accomplishments as a black person stuns me

  8. Just another reason why it’s NOT a good idea to put people in charge of departments when they are so vastly unqualified! This is the problem with the Trump administration, but they don’t seem to understand the consequences of their actions! As it stands, with many of Trump’s plans, poor and low-income people are going to suffer significantly in ALL areas including taxes, healthcare, housing, and much more! Mulvaney needs to get his ass out of the office and do some traveling to see what will happen when he willy nilly cuts very important and viable programs from the budget! Maybe if he stayed for a week in an apartment with homeless people, he may get the idea! Doubtful, but we could always be optimistic!

    • Maybe repugnants should be forced to watch a documentary about the french revolution, I say watch a documentary instead of read a book because I doubt most of them can read anything more advanced than Seuse.

  9. Ben Carson, you must have inhaled a lot of anesthetic in your day. First of all, joining the Republican Party and dissing you own people does not turn you White. You still Black. Secondly, you are a token in the republican party. They chose you because you have a few loose bolts and missing nuts in your cranial machinery. That way, they point to you and say, “See, it proves that race is not as smart as our race.” I know some pretty smart black people. Two of them were nuclear scientists and one was a doctor. The reason the republican party did not choose one of them for their token, they are too smart to be republicans.

    • He inhaled ALOT of something in his day, and I don’t suspect it was anesthesia! He doesn’t seem to realize that he’s just Trump’s “boy” and was put in the position he’s in because it was the least dangerous.

  10. Anyone who has had the misfortune to observe Trump’s stream of consciousness knows he only chose Ben Carson because he is black. Here is how the Trump mind works…He owned an upscale apartment building in Manhattan and got sued for refusing to rent to a highly educated, professional black couple.

    In his stupid closet racist mind, “housing’ is a definition for “ghetto.” So when you are a closet racist you do pick a black man for “housing” and “urban development” don’t you?

    After all, isn’t it the ghettos that need all that urban development? All that paying under the table to have inner cities declared “blighted” so they can be claimed by eminent domain? And who do you all think will be right there to buy up that blighted area for a song?

    Why the Real Estate Grifter in Chief. Who else?

  11. “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.”

    Well in the new land Agent Orange is building, the wealthy will also own the roads (they’ll ALL be toll roads), so you’ll be forced to swim away.

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