5 Bizarre Ben Carson Quotes On The Economy, Like How Our Taxation System Should Follow The Bible
Dr. Ben Carson, former neurosurgeon and, by some polls, the Republican frontrunner, has had a pretty wild week. He made headlines for soaring past Donald Trump, releasing a truly unsettling rap ad, elaborating on a confusing Egyptian pyramid theory, lying about a West Point scholarship, and raging at the liberal media for the heinous act of — you guessed it — fact-checking. But he's made one thing clear: He wants the media to stop focusing on scrutinizing stories of his past for honesty and accuracy and instead focus on the real issues like, say, his economic platform. True, controversy about allegations against him is pretty interesting to read about, but frankly, so are Ben Carson's bizarre quotes on the economy.
Carson's campaign aides have defended him by saying his inexperience has somehow enabled him to understand the economy better. According to Bloomberg, aides have cited his time on corporate boards and the business experience of members of his inner circle because, of course, everyone knows that having smart friends automatically means you must be pretty smart, yourself. And yet, from contradictory statements to cringeworthy biblical rationales and now famous debt limit inaccuracies, Carson's two cents on the economy are questionable, at best.
1. "The [Taxation System] That I've Advocated Is Based On Tithing, Because I Think God Is A Pretty Fair Guy."
Carson said in full at the first GOP debate in August:
We need a significantly changed taxation system. And the one that I've advocated is based on tithing, because I think God is a pretty fair guy. And He said, you know, if you give me a tithe, it doesn't matter how much you make. If you've had a bumper crop, you don't owe Me triple tithes. And if you've had no crops at all, you don't owe Me no tithes. So, there must be something inherently fair about that. And that's why I've advocated a proportional tax system. You make $10 billion, you pay a billion. You make $10, you pay one. And everybody gets treated the same way. And you get rid of the deductions, you get rid of all the loopholes.
To quote Slate's Adam Chodorow in an article thoroughly elaborating on why, exactly, biblical taxation wouldn't work in modern America: "Holy crap."
2. "The Cries Of 'Tax The Rich' In The Face Of Such A Hypocritical Tax Code Is, Frankly, Quite Laughable. I Do Not Believe That The Rich Are Unpatriotic Because They Take Advantage Of Loopholes"
In his 2012 book America the Beautiful, Carson wrote:
The cries of "tax the rich" in the face of such a hypocritical tax code is, frankly, quite laughable. I do not believe that the rich are unpatriotic because they take advantage of loopholes, but I think we as a nation are smart enough to come up with a system of taxation that ... allows everyone to contribute proportionately to the financial health of the nation--just as God designed for us in the concept of the tithe.
Ah, God and the tithe: Two things that should be completely irrelevant to modern American politics and the economy that Carson can't seem to let go of. Following his logic, if only the tax code followed the Bible, it would no longer be hypocritical, and people taking advantage of its loopholes wouldn't just be unpatriotic, but would also be sinners.
3. "Obamacare Is Really, I Think, The Worst Thing That Has Happened In This Nation Since Slavery."
Yes, totally. The post-slavery world has seen racial segregation, rampant anti-black lynching, and KKK terror tactics, but government-provided health care? The worst.
Carson continued in his 2013 speech, "And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control." And, to build on this brilliant display of professionalism, Carson later on described Obamacare as "a bunch of crap."
4. "Some Of The Things That Are Going On Which Could Be Easily Remedied Are Not Being Remedied In Order To Keep The Economy Depressed Because There Would Be No Appetite For ... The Social Programs If People Were Doing Well."
In an appearance on Fox News, anchor Megyn Kelly asked Carson, "Do you think that people who are on welfare want to be on welfare?"
I think some people have [welfare] as a way of life. ... Perhaps some of the things that are going on right now which could be easily remedied are not being remedied in order to keep the economy depressed because there would be no appetite for many of the social programs if people were doing well.
So, essentially, to Carson, Democrats are purposefully not "remedying" aspects of the economy so that people remain in poverty, because Democrats love social programs that much. Following his logic, Democrats will soon be restricting women's access to contraceptives just to bring about unplanned pregnancies, because Democrats love abortions that much. Oh, wait, that was the Republicans...
5. "Let Me Put It This Way: If I Were The President, I Would Not Sign An Increased Budget. Absolutely Would Not Do It."
This comment doesn't sound at all too unusual coming from a Republican presidential candidate. Only, in context, is it ridiculous. In an October interview with Marketplace, when asked by the show's host, Kai Ryssdal, about raising the debt limit, Carson literally did not understand the difference between the federal spending budget and the debt limit. Ryssdal attempted multiple times to clarify for Carson that the two were different things entirely, but throughout the interview, Carson persisted in his refusal to raise the budget.
To clarify, the debt limit, or ceiling, differs from the budget in that it is the maximum amount of money the federal government can borrow to fund its already existing obligations. Examples of these obligations are Social Security, military salaries, and interest on the debt.
Carson has suggested that his near complete lack of political experience doesn't make him unqualified for the presidency, going so far as to inaccurately claim the Founding Fathers had never held public office to justify this. But Carson's obsession with rationalizing economic policies using the Bible and his ignorance about certain federal spending basics are more than a little unsettling. The presidential hopeful might be able to hide his inexperience by continuing to appeal to a large evangelical base with religious rhetoric, but strange comments about economics should cast doubt on his electability.