Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is taking some slings and arrows from Democrats and the women at The View after his appearance before House Financial Services Committee Tuesday. During his testimony, he was asked if he knew the meaning of the term “REO” by Rep. Katie Porter.
Porter, a no-nonsense questioner, was not amused when Carson apparently misunderstood and asked if the question was about an Oreo, the tasty cookie. Instead of taking the opportunity at the moment and making a light joke about the misunderstanding, Rep. Porter dourly continued. Carson answered the question incorrectly when he guessed, “real estate e-organization.” Her tone was stern and she spelled it out for Sec. Carson twice.
It’s actually “real estate owned.”
The term refers to property owned by a bank or a lender after it’s been foreclosed. Porter wanted to know why the rate of REOs issued by the Federal Housing Administration is higher than that for other government-owned real estate.
That exchange provided fodder for administration critics, both in Congress and in the media. Ben Carson played along with the jokes and responded in a good-natured way.
— Ben Carson (@SecretaryCarson) May 21, 2019
A particularly snarky exchange by Rep. Ayanna Pressley about public housing resulted in Carson refusing to answer her questions.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley grilled the Housing and Urban Development secretary about the deteriorating state of federally subsidized housing in the United States, leading to a contentious exchange in which Carson flatly refused to entertain the Massachusetts congresswoman’s questions.
“Let me be clear,” Pressley said. “Housing is a fundamental human right, and the displacement of families should be regarded as the public health crisis that it is.”
The two had a testy exchange as Pressley demanded a yes or no response to her question about aging public housing and its health effects on residents. Carson wasn’t arguing with her premise, yet she persisted. Her intention appeared to be to characterize Carson as uninterested in improving housing conditions. Carson has suggested cuts in public housing spending in hopes of encouraging private investment.
“Yes or no: Is stable and safe housing a social determinant of health?” she asked.
“Sounds like you have not been here and heard most of my testimony,” Carson replied.
“Please just answer the question, reclaiming my time,” Pressley said, repeating her question. “Yes or no: Is stable and safe housing a social determinant of health?”
‘There is no question that housing is an important part of health,” Carson replied.
“Yes or no?” Pressley insisted.
“No question that it’s a part of health,” he said.
Pressley went on to say that health problems resulting from lead poisoning, asthma, and trips and falls, “especially among our senior population, can be linked to substandard housing conditions” and contribute to “billions” a year in health care costs. She said this was particularly a problem for public housing residents.
As her questioning continued, Carson asked her to stop reading questions from her paper and just ask him directly. He even asked to reclaim his time from her. At that point, Chairman Maxine Waters jumped in and said only members of the committee get to reclaim their time. Now that was a little comic relief.
After the hearing, a sister freshman, Rep. Ilhan Omar, decided to weigh in with a personal attack on Carson. She went to his physical characteristic, that his eyes often look as though he is sleepy. It was the same attack that President Trump used during the 2016 GOP primary when he and Carson were both running for the nomination.
“Not sure he was fully awake, maybe he meant to reclaim his time back to sleep,” she tweeted. She was playing off of Carson’s request for time during a testy exchange with Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.
Sec. Carson, to his credit, hit back. He even brought Omar’s pro-abortion agenda into his response. His tweet was perfect as he referenced his world-renowned career in pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
Since you brought it up… I know what it's like to actually be sleepy, especially after 18-hour surgeries and operating on babies in the womb. I hope @IlhanMN knows I care about all people, even those she doesn't recognize as having a right to life. https://t.co/BRl3ibSKM3
— Ben Carson (@SecretaryCarson) May 22, 2019
Wednesday on The View, Joy Behar took the criticism of Sec. Carson’s performance to a new level. She lumped him in with the entire Trump administration and declared that “Svengali” Trump creates a “cult of mentally crazy people.”
“He’s under the influence of Donald Svengali [Trump] who has already created this cult of mentally crazy people,” she said. “I mean everybody who believes Donald Trump — I believe has to look a little closer.”
Behar’s co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Sunny Hostin piled on. Goldberg accused Carson of making “poor and uninformed decisions” as head of HUD, though Hostin did toss him a bone by praising his surgical skills. It boiled down to Hostin’s question – Why isn’t he doing more to help people living in public housing?
“It’s not that he could help it,” Goldberg said. “What he can do is he can stop trying to evict people who are here legally, living with families, who haven’t become citizens yet. He can stop trying to cut the damn budget to buildings all over the country.”
When Hostin questioned why Carson did those things, Goldberg said that “he doesn’t know any better.” Behar chimed in, similarly suggesting that Carson made those decisions under Trump’s influence.
Whoopi Goldberg ended the conversation with some advice for Carson.
“Listen man, get out of there,” Goldberg told Carson on Wednesday. “You’re a great surgeon, you’re a magnificent surgeon … you need to get out of HUD. Get out of there.”
CARSON UNABLE TO ANSWER HUD QUESTIONS? Housing Secretary Ben Carson’s exchange with Rep. Katie Porter in which he appeared to mix up the common foreclosure term “REO” with Oreo cookies made headlines Tuesday — the co-hosts weigh in. https://t.co/S6XSsdBpax pic.twitter.com/7JmcGxDNUI
— The View (@TheView) May 22, 2019
Democrat congresswomen and liberal television show hosts imply Ben Carson is unable to do his job due to ignorance or maybe just a lack of compassion. Those two hot takes defy logic and tell more about his critics than him. Funding public housing and keeping up with living conditions in old developments is a never-ending battle. Ben Carson didn’t start the problems and he won’t end them, either. The federal government is a lousy landlord. Kudos to Carson for trying to encourage private sector solutions.