Ben Carson Wants to Triple the Rent on Poor People, Yet That’s Not His Worst Idea

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12: U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson (C), flanked by wife Candy Carson and Thomas Farley, president of the NYSE, rings the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), June 12, 2017 in New York City. Carson rang the closing bell on Monday afternoon to highlight National Homeownership Month, a proclamation made by President Donald Trump.

Maybe Ben Carson thinks the poor need a tour of the New York Stock Exchange during National Homeownership Month. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

When people heard about the new plan from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, many thought he’d had his worst idea yet. In a surprise move, Carson proposed tripling the rent on poor Americans (including many seniors) who live in public housing.

Yet the unqualified Trump appointee has said many things over the years that left people scratching their heads, and at least one was more ridiculous. Here are the worst ideas Carson’s ever had, including a preposterous claim about the Bible (page 8).

10. People in public housing have ‘no incentive to work.’

  • Only 6% of people receiving assistance are able to work but don’t have a job.

Even though Carson grew up poor, he doesn’t seem to understand the basics of poverty. For example, he said in late April that the public housing system “basically sapped the incentive for people to work.”

That theory is not backed by statistics. The National Low Income Housing Commission reported that 6% of people receiving housing assistance could work but don’t have jobs. (Yes, that’s a only a few ticks above the U.S. unemployment rate.)

Next: Carson thought signers of the Declaration of Independence were political novices.

9. Declaration of Independence signers had ‘no experience.’ Just like him.

3rd President of the US Thomas Jefferson

Is Ben Carson really the next Thomas Jefferson? | Wikimedia Commons

  • Over half of Declaration signers had experience as lawmakers.

When Carson ran for president as a Republican, people questioned how a retired neurosurgeon would be a good fit for the biggest job in politics. Carson had the answer: Neither did Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and other founders who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Fact-checkers easily shot that claim down. Of the 51 Declaration signers, 27 had experience as office holders, including Jefferson and Franklin. No experience is a bad idea in any job — something Carson himself acknowledged when he said he didn’t qualify for a position in Trump’s Cabinet.

Next: Carson thought lying to Congress would be easy.

8. To avoid a scandal about wasted taxpayer money, Carson pretended to know nothing.

Candy Carson and Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speak during a campaign rally

Carson even tried to blame the purchase on his wife. | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

  • Carson ordered a $31,000 dining room set, then blamed it on everyone else.

Among the most corrupt acts of the Trump administration, Carson’s decision to blow $31,000 on a dinner table and chairs hasn’t cracked the top 10. However, it was a clear abuse of power, and HUD spokespeople lied about it, claiming the secretary knew nothing of the purchase.

Carson tried to blame the purchase on his wife, too, but emails showed he knew about it the whole time. While it’s a minor scandal by Trump standards, Carson should know better than to think this stuff goes away on its own.

Next: Carson had a strange idea about gay people.

7. ‘Being gay is a choice.’

Carson has had to walk back a number of controversial comments. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

  • Carson thinks homosexuals decide their path in life.

When Carson chatted with a CNN anchor in 2015, he mentioned how “a lot of people … go into prison straight, and when they come out, they’re gay.” Naturally, a follow-up question came.

So is being gay a choice? “Absolutely,” Carson said. He later walked back the comments, but it sounded like something politicians do. You don’t get more affirmative than “absolutely.”

Next: The theory of evolution is the work of Satan.

6. ‘The theory of evolution is wrong. Blame the devil.’

Carson believes that science was actually the work of the devil. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

  • Satan got the best of Darwin, Carson said.

“I personally believe that this theory that Darwin came up with was something that was encouraged by the adversary [the devil],” Carson said. “And it has become what is scientifically, politically correct.”

Though he was onto something when he said the theory of evolution was “scientifically correct,” Carson’s presidential ambitions ended with that statement.

Next: The Affordable Care Act is worse than 9/11?

5. ‘Obamacare is worse than 9/11.’

en Carson attends the National Action Network (NAN) national convention at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel on April 8, 2015 in New York City.

Ben Carson ranked 9/11 above Obamacare. | Andrew Burton/Getty Images

  • Anyone in New York on 9/11 — and nearly everyone else in America — would disagree.

Could a health care law be worse than Islamic terrorists’ attack on America on 9/11? Ben Carson said it was.

As someone who lived through 9/11 in New York, I find the mere suggestion offensive. I imagine the families of victims feel more strongly about it.

Next: Carson thinks three bathrooms in every building will solve problems.

4. ‘How about we have a transgender bathroom?’

An all gender rest room sign next to a bathroom door

He wanted every public building in the U.S. to have three bathrooms. | ciud/ Getty Images

  • You just have to clear out space and pay for a third bathroom in every building in America.

Forget about the politics. It doesn’t matter where you stand on the transgender community using certain bathrooms. This idea ranks among Carson’s worst for how detached from reality he is.

Imagine every architect and contractor redesigning every building ever made to include a third bathroom. That’s what Carson proposed.

Next: Historians and archaeologists laugh about this signature Carson idea.

3. Egypt’s pyramids were really ‘to store grain,’ and Joseph built them.

a camel outside a great pyramid

This claim was bizarre and historically wrong. | Chris McGrath/Getty Images

  • No historian took this claim seriously. Most wouldn’t respond to it.

In the Bible, Joseph has a vision about an impending famine and advised the pharaoh to make sure there was enough grain to avoid a famine. In Ben Carson’s head, it became “Joseph built the pyramids to store grain. ”

An Egyptian expert from Yale named to BuzzFeed the two clearest problems with Carson’s theory:

  1. Pyramids didn’t have enough space to store much of anything.
  2. Joseph’s era came 500 years after the pyramids were built.

Next: To raise people out of poverty, Carson suggested higher rent.

2. Raising poor people’s rent would ‘level the playing field.’

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12: Activists rally for affordable housing and against U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson during his appearance at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to ring the closing bell, June 12, 2017 in New York City. Carson rang the closing bell on Monday afternoon to highlight National Homeownership Month, a proclamation made by President Donald Trump.

Carson’s housing plan would affect millions. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

  • By raising maximum rent from $50 to $150, Carson’s plan would deprive the poorest Americans of essentials. 

Carson’s idea about tripling poor people’s rent wasn’t his all-time worst, but it comes close. So how would it work, exactly? Here are some key points from the April 25 Washington Post report:

  • 712,000 families would see their rent go from $50 to $150 every month.
  • Another 1.65 million families would see rents go up.
  • After 6 years, seniors in subsidized housing would be eligible for rent hikes.

“Every year, it takes more money, millions of dollars more, to serve the same number of households,” Carson said about his plan. It was as if he learned about inflation for the first time in his life at the age of 66.

Next: Carson thinks poor people mostly suffer from a bad attitude.

1. Poverty is ‘a state of mind.’

Carson thinks poor people can just think their way out of poverty. | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

  • Being unable to eat well and attend private schools can also hurt.

On the question of poverty, Carson told a radio show that “poverty is also to a large extent a state of mind.” Here’s how it works: Poor people who think the right way can claim everything for their own.

Meanwhile, rich people who think the wrong way will lose everything. “You take somebody with the wrong mind-set, you can give them everything in the world (and) they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom,” Carson said.

Do you know many people who were born into wealth but ended up on welfare? Neither do we.

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