Is Donald Trump's Platform More Extreme Than Ben Carson's? The Answer Might Just Surprise You

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Ben Carson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Donald Trump participate in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Terrifyingly, Donald Trump has been leading the field of Republican presidential candidates for weeks. But now, his competition is ramping up. According to the latest poll by Monmouth University, Ben Carson is tied with Trump in Iowa, with 23 percent of Republican support there. Although Trump has gotten much more media attention so far in the 2016 election (he is a celebrity, after all), he and Carson aren't too different. Neither has ever held political office, both used to identify as Democrats, and both believe that the U.S. economy is headed for the crapper. The two candidates don't agree on everything, though, and Carson's views are surprisingly more extreme than Trump's on most issues.

As two former liberals, Trump and Carson have both changed their stances on everything from abortion to the economy over the years. Carson told CNN's State of the Union last week that he used to be a "pretty left-wing Democrat" and that, though he was personally against abortion, he didn't believe in telling others what to do with their bodies. Trump has also had to explain his former pro-choice leanings and support for Hillary Clinton, assuring voters that he's now very conservative. 

Trump and Carson's current political agendas are undoubtedly Republican, with Carson's beliefs stretching even further to the right. Here's how the two leading GOP candidates compare on the issues.

The Economy

More extreme: Carson

In his candidacy announcement speech, Trump said he wants to be the "the greatest jobs president that God ever created." He claimed that he'll bring jobs back to America from Mexico, China, and Japan by raising tariffs on foreign goods and negotiating better trade deals, saying that he would place a 35 percent tax on Ford vehicles made in Mexico and sold in the U.S. 

Trump wants to change who handles the nation's economy by recruiting businessmen to work for the government. On Morning Joe in June, he said that he wants billionaire investor Carl Icahn to be his Treasury secretary if elected. He also wants to keep the minimum wage, but not raise it from the current $7.25 an hour rate, saying, "I think having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country."

Carson's economic plan is still pretty vague, and his speeches focus on the typical Republican themes of eliminating government waste and regulations. He believes in the free market, but told Bloomberg Businessweek that he was "disgusted" by Wall Street's actions before the 2008 financial crisis: "When you have situations where you have some guys making two or three hundred million dollars and you've got all the workers struggling, there is something wrong there." Carson's religious approach to tax reform makes him more extreme than Trump on the economy, though. He suggested a flat-tax plan of 10 percent, inspired by biblical tithing practices. 

Immigration

More extreme: Trump

When it comes to immigration, Trump is more extreme than any other candidate. He wants a wall across America's southern border, and he claims that he'll make Mexico pay for it. Until they do so, he'd make the U.S. increase fees on temporary visas for Mexican CEOs and diplomats, worker visas, and all border crossing cards, among other things. His campaign website says: "We will not be taken advantage of anymore."

While Carson also wants to boost border security, he hasn't specified how he would do that, and he doesn't expect Mexico to pay for it. Carson's website says: "There is much that can be learned from security personnel in prisons and other secured facilities, and there is a great deal of smart technology that could be employed to achieve secure borders."

Abortion

More extreme: Carson

Although Trump has changed his previously pro-choice stance on abortion, he's still more liberal than other GOP candidates on the issue, including Carson. Trump no longer supports abortion, but he does think that exemptions to that rule are necessary in cases of rape, incest, and risk to the mother's life. He told NBC's Meet the Press: "Ronald Reagan had those same exceptions. And many Republicans have those same exceptions."

Carson, on the other hand, protested Planned Parenthood at an anti-abortion rally in July, demanding that the government defund the health organization. He has compared abortion to slavery multiple times, and even said that legal abortion is "human sacrifice" in 2014. The 2016 Committee website says: "My entire professional life has been devoted to saving and enhancing lives. Thus, the thought of abortion for the sake of convenience does not appeal to me."

Healthcare

More extreme: Carson

Neither Trump nor Carson like Obamacare. Trump hasn't revealed a detailed health plan yet, but he has revealed that he wants to return power to the states, allow health insurance to operate under free market rules, and dismantle insurance company monopolies.

Carson has suggested health savings accounts to replace Obamacare. These accounts would be controlled by patients and provided by employers for Americans who are employed. Carson wrote in a 2013 Washington Times op-ed: "Even if the federal government provided such an account for every American citizen that was increased by $2,000 each year, it would cost less than $700 billion a year and everyone would be covered." If the money isn't used, it would accumulate over time so that the elderly would have money for health coverage once retired. 

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