While driving in my car yesterday, a familiar voice came over the radio that I recognized as an audible prescription of Ambien. The soft and drifting whisper that is the hallmark of Ben Carson’s “leadership” almost convinced me to nod off and crash into a mattress store to take a nap but fortunately what he said was so startlingly ridiculous that it woke me back up just in time.
I was listening to NPR and an installment of Marketplace was on. This is the high energy conservative, pro-capitalist and pro-wealth portion of the NPR programming day so I often give it a pass but Ben Carson’s voice hooked me because it always sounds like he’s about to let out a big yawn and I wanted to hear that.
Instead, what I heard was Carson’s glaring ignorance about one of the most basic aspects of the U.S. economy. This is something that anyone wanting to be President MUST know…yet Carson doesn’t know this. This brain surgeon should have learned from the old phrase, “Physician, heal thyself”.
In fact, throughout the whole interview, it was clear that Ben Carson doesn’t really have much knowledge about or understand the U.S. economy. He doesn’t stand a chance but if he could become President (of The Christian United States of America), he would obliviously plunge the country off an enormous economic cliff.
Just to be clear, “the debt ceiling” refers to the spending limit on the U.S. paying debts for financing, goods, services, etc. it’s already received (due to a previous budget approved by Congress and the President). Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with raising current or future spending, it has nothing to do with new budget proposals. It started as a symbolic but superficial exercise, a way for Congress to note and wag a finger at the rising deficit but of course approve it in an automatic way because the U.S. could never be seen as a crook that took something and never paid for it…at least until the Tea Party Republicans came to Congress, they seem very comfortable with that image (and ignorant of the financial disaster it would cause for the U.S. and the world if the U.S. was to declare itself unreliable in paying debts).
But the not-so-bright Dr. Carson actually believes that approving the debt ceiling is instead approving an increase in future spending.
He’s already shown that he doesn’t understand the U.S. Constitution in insisting there needs to be a religious test to weed out Muslims from becoming President, he’s belittled the victims of the mass shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon for not all rushing at the shooter…like he promises from a safe t.v. studio far away that he would have of course done and he thinks the raising the debt ceiling is the same thing as approving a new higher budget.
Here’s an excerpt from yesterday’s interview, conducted by Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal:
Ryssdal: All right, so let’s talk about debt then and the budget. As you know, Treasury Secretary Lew has come out in the last couple of days and said, “We’re gonna run out of money, we’re gonna run out of borrowing authority, on the fifth of November.” Should the Congress then and the president not raise the debt limit? Should we default on our debt?
Carson: Let me put it this way: if I were the president, I would not sign an increased budget. Absolutely would not do it. They would have to find a place to cut.
Ryssdal: To be clear, it’s increasing the debt limit, not the budget, but I want to make sure I understand you. You’d let the United States default rather than raise the debt limit.
Carson: No, I would provide the kind of leadership that says, “Get on the stick guys, and stop messing around, and cut where you need to cut, because we’re not raising any spending limits, period.”
Ryssdal: I’m gonna try one more time, sir. This is debt that’s already obligated. Would you not favor increasing the debt limit to pay the debts already incurred?
Carson: What I’m saying is what we have to do is restructure the way that we create debt. I mean if we continue along this, where does it stop? It never stops. You’re always gonna ask the same question every year. And we’re just gonna keep going down that pathway. That’s one of the things I think that the people are tired of.
Ryssdal: I’m really trying not to be circular here, Dr. Carson, but if you’re not gonna raise the debt limit and you’re not gonna give specifics on what you’re gonna cut, then how are we going to know what you are going to do as president of the United States?
Carson: OK, let me try to explain it in a different way. If, in fact, we have a number of different areas that are contributing to the increasing expenditures and the continued expenditures that are putting us further and further into the hole. You’re familiar I’m sure with the concept of the fiscal gap.
You can listen to the annoyingly circular interview (not Ryssdal’s fault) or read the transcript from the full interview here.
To Ryssdal’s credit, he pointed out Carson’s ignorance in a constructive way and tried valiantly to get him to provide details that showed he wasn’t just an ignorant mumbler.
But, as Carson himself proves above, he is indeed that.
We were fed a lie that Jeb was the smart Bush. Here too, America has been fed a lie that because Ben Carson has proven physical skills in surgery, that he too is smart. Physical abilities don’t connote intelligence and vice-versa, as any high school nerd whose been the victim of a noogie attack by a football player could testify.
What’s harder to believe, that Carson could have excellent coordination and physical skills as a doctor but could be otherwise not very bright or that the victims of a mass shooting are to blame for their own deaths because they weren’t as as brave as Carson claims to be (when he’s thousands of miles away from a shooting)?
I’m not saying that Ben Carson is not smart because he’s a Republican (even though it’s apparently a requirement in the GOP primaries), it’s based solely on his clearly stated ignorance about…nearly everything.
In the rest of the interview, he promised magical spending cuts using the most vague, tired and dishonest campaign cliche of “cutting waste” of at least 3%-4% in every government department (even though such “waste” was cut out many years ago). He also offered the brilliant proposal of simply not replacing any federal workers when they retire, even the most essential ones. Meanwhile, he wants to cut taxes hugely, especially for the wealthy by using a 15% flat tax, and spend massively on the military and new wars.
Listening to Carson is like listening to a five year old whose been told that they can have ten wishes. And even that 5 year old could figure out that reducing the amount of juice boxes will be given out while increasing the number of thirsty kids doesn’t make sense and won’t work. There is nothing resembling reality in his vague wish list which he fobs off as policies. And when he’s pressed on how an item on his wish list would work, he scrambles to change the subject to how bad things are now and how they need to be fixed.
Both Carson and Trump have a great deal in common with bad science fiction movies, they all need to get people to suspend their disbelief to be successful…and in the end, none of them are able enough to accomplish that.