Ben Carson it is Time to Focus on the “H” in HUD
On March 5, 2018, The New York Times reported on “Ben Carson on His Vexing Reign at HUD: Brain Surgery Was Easier Than This.”
“Before Ben Carson accepted President Trump’s offer to become secretary of housing and urban development, a friend implored him to turn down the job to preserve the reputation he had earned as a brilliant neurosurgeon and lost, in part, as a politician.”
Since he began his leadership of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Carson has pushed the department to encourage “self-sufficiency” in the very low-income households the federal agency serves.
“There is nothing wrong with encouraging safe, inviting places for youth to grow,” said Adrianne Todman, chief executive of the Washington-based National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. “But it is time for us to focus on the ‘H’ in HUD — ‘housing.’”
“There are more complexities here than in brain surgery,” Mr. Carson said in an interview last week. “Doing this job is going to be a very intricate process.”
“HUD, created in 1965 as a Great Society response to a growing urban crisis, is a lot less powerful than its vast portfolio suggests. It is mostly a conduit for congressional appropriations and a caretaker for a patch quilt of existing anti-poverty programs.”
Secretary Carson is not seen as one of the key leaders in President Trump’s administration and has not advocated for his agency during the recent budget debates.
“That lack of influence was painfully apparent during the internal debate before the release of Mr. Trump’s budget, which would help pay for increases in military and Homeland Security spending with steep cuts to HUD’s Community Development Block Grant and core housing programs.”
“Mr. Carson, people close to him say, hates asking anybody for money — and has told advisers that he feels acutely uncomfortable asking the president for anything that could be construed as a favor. When the White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney, proposed an 18 percent cut to HUD late last year, Mr. Carson reluctantly reached out to the president. Mr. Trump expressed sympathy. Then he told him to “talk to Mick” about the details.”
Eventually, the White House chief of staff John F. Kelly and the president put about $2 billion back in the HUD budget slightly lowering percentage of the cut to 14%.
It has rumored that recently, Secretary Carson has considered quitting his job as the leader of HUD while the proposed HUD budget numbers got worked out.