Despite the controversy swirling around Ben Carson’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, the secretary told a conservative-leaning publication that the president wants him at the helm for the long haul.
“I certainly hope you’re planning to be with me all seven years,” Carson said President Trump told him at a recent meeting, according to a Monday story in Newsmax.
Carson’s name has repeatedly been floated as part of the next round of Trump cabinet turnover, especially in the wake of reports that he approved the purchase a $31,000 dining room table set for his personal offices — and then attempted to blame the incident on his wife, Candy Carson, who is not a HUD employee.
But that scandal has been overshadowed by Trump’s firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and even more runaway spending by Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, and Carson expressed confidence in his position the interview with Newsmax White House correspondent John Gizzi.
“This was just the latest,” Carson told Gizzi, expressing frustration at what he perceives to be unfair treatment by the media. “It’s been this way since I’ve been here.”
The furniture order was later cancelled, and HUD also rolled out an initiative to boost internal checks on spending around the same time, resulting in some awkward optics. But Carson touted the plan as a way to curb government waste, and he expanded on those thoughts in the Newsmax interview.
“You know, as a nation we have a $21 trillion national debt,” he told the publication, adding that the federal government has to take steps to control it instead of “playing ostrich.”
Carson’s comments came the same day that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released its 10-year budget outlook, projecting that the Republican-led tax cuts passed last year — and championed by the president — would increase the federal debt from $16 trillion at the end of this year to $29 trillion by 2028, a number that would represent 96% of the gross domestic product.
The HUD secretary, a former neurosurgeon who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 GOP nomination for president, also cited racism as a reason for his treatment in the media.
“It’s no secret that for much of the liberal establishment, a black conservative is totally unacceptable,” he told Newsmax. “They simply don’t believe in the concept of a person being able to think for themselves and not subscribe to their philosophy. To me, that’s the definition of racism — when you take somebody and, based on the color of their skin, you decide what they are supposed to think.”
Carson additionally reiterated his desire to reduce the usage of government programs through his work at HUD.
“It’s not about me. It’s about how we can get people out of dependency and use their God-given talents to improve their own lives and thereby empowering the nation as a whole,” he said.
Newsmax is led by CEO Christopher Ruddy, a longtime Trump ally and confidante who frequently speaks about the president’s state of mind in the media.
Written by Alex Spanko