Ben Carson admits running HUD is harder than brain surgery


  • Courtesy photo
  • Ben Carson.

Former brain surgeon and current secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson says that, actually, compared to his new job, neuroscience was pretty easy.

"There are more complexities here than in brain surgery," Carson told The New York Times in a story published Monday. "Doing this job is going to be a very intricate process."

That sentiment would explain why Carson appears to be in over his head, with a first year on the job that has been dogged with gaffes and scandal.

Recently, Carson came under fire for circumventing law to redecorate his HUD office with a $31,000 dining set — earning the ire of the White House. A whistleblower claims she was demoted and transferred to another department for refusing to comply. (Carson has since canceled the dining set order.)

In another ethical issue, Carson invited his businessman son Ben Carson Jr., to attend a "listening tour" last summer, despite concerns from department lawyers that it could be an ethical violation. Carson's response was to simply ask his wife and son if they thought they were doing anything wrong. "I don't have any problem with ethics," Carson told the Times. "I'm not going to just say no because it looks this way or that way. ... We are ethically pure."

And then there was the time Carson, who grew up relying on food stamps in Detroit, said that he believed poverty was "a state of mind."

Millions of low-income Americans rely on HUD for housing and other aid. Last year, the White House proposed an 18 percent cut to HUD funds. Carson negotiated a 14 percent cut.

According to NYT Carson considered quitting during negotiations.

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