Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon with no experience running a federal agency, was confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development this morning.
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Ben Carson, a losing 2016's Republican presidential candidate who believes poverty is a choice, and who once said it's the responsibility of the people, not the government, "to take care of the indigent in our society," was approved this morning as the new secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The agency, which had a $48 billion dollar budget in the 2016 fiscal year, oversees public housing, fights urban blight, and ensures that low-income families and individuals, like single mothers, have access to a safe and reliable home.
During a Fox News interview on November 22, just after Trump offered Carson the position, Neil Cavuto asked Carson why he was qualified for the job, given that he's a retired neurosurgeon who's never run a federal agency. In response, Carson said he's partly qualified to run HUD because he was raised in an inner city.
"I know that I grew up in the inner city and have spent a lot of time there and have dealt with a lot of patients from that area and recognize that we cannot have a strong nation if we have weak inner cities," he said, echoing Trump's fear of poverty and crime in inner cities. That same day, Trump tweeted: "I am seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as the head of HUD. I've gotten to know him well—he's a greatly talented person who loves people!"
In conversation on an episode of Democracy Now, host Amy Goodman cited a few of Carson's views that have faced criticism, the most pertinent being that he's been a vocal critic of HUD's landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination in the housing market based on race, religion, national origin, and sex. "Carson has described the rule as a, quote, 'mandated social-engineering scheme,'" she said. "Carson said, quote, 'This is just an example of what happens when we allow the government to infiltrate every part of our lives." Carson also previously compared the resulting regulations of the Fair Housing Act to "what you see in communist countries.'"
Jumaane Williams, New York City councilmember and chair of the city's Housing and Buildings Committee, said on the show that the thought of Carson as HUD secretary was nothing less than concerning.
"We are suffering crippling homelessness, record high in homelessness, not having enough affordable housing in the city," said Williams, who serves NYC's 45th District. "We actually have been pleading for additional funding dollars, particularly when it comes to Section 8 vouchers. We have a—we had a good idea that this may be cut under a Trump administration."
The Senate largely backed Carson on a party-line vote of 58 to 41, though a few Democrats, such as Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Mark Warner (D-VA), gave him the thumbs up. The New York Times reported that, instead of embracing the food stamp and housing assistance programs that he and his family were surrounded by in his youth, "he has adopted standard Republican beliefs that too much government help—both in desegregating neighborhoods and in lifting people from poverty—can discourage people from working hard."
As a casual reminder, in 1973, the Department of Justice accused Trump and his father for violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent apartments to black people.
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