Ben Carson

Good News! Ben Carson Is Campaigning Against the Debt. Bad News? Well….

Outsider could wage a Ross Perot-style crusade against the national debt, if only his tongue would get out of the way

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It's the calmness that gets you. |||

It's safe to say that Ben Carson, the celebrated neurosurgeon and inspirational speaker who announced his presidential candidacy Monday, will not win the GOP nomination. Not only because the lone political novice to win a major party's presidential nod since World War II was the more familiar-to-Americans Dwight Eisenhower, but because Carson is running on his inexperience and rhetorical dazzle after seven years of a previously inexperienced president made originally famous by his speeches and books. There's a broad school of current Republican thought that the 2016 nominee has to be a governor with practical executive experience; these are not the best conditions for the Donald Trumps and Herman Cains of the world.

But Carson has some arrows in his quiver that other outsider longshots usually do not. For one, he's a remarkably successful author—his two-decade-old memoir is currently the #272 book on Amazon, his last book was a New York Times bestseller, and I'd wager that his forthcoming release will outsell the rest of the GOP field's combined campaign verbiage. And Carson's rags-to-riches story, now polished over decades, can out-Horatio Alger just about anybody's.  

The question is what will Carson do with his self-conscious, "I-don't-want-to-be-a-politician" political incorrectness. To my happy surprise, he spent a good chunk of his announcement speech hinting at a Ross Perot-style crusade against the massive national debt and its drag on the economic growth:

Miss me yet? |||

We…are going to have to concentrate on fixing the broken economy. Eighteen trillion-plus in national debt—and we have representatives who applaud themselves if the deficit does not go up as much this quarter as it did last quarter. They are completely out to lunch. We have got to drive that thing back down. It is our responsibility.

You need to know who your representatives are. You need to know how they voted, not how they said they voted. If they voted to keep raising the debt ceiling, to keep compromising the future of our children and our grandchildren, you need to throw them out of office.

Eighteen trillion: Think about what that means. If you try to pay that back [at] a rate of $10 million per day, it would take you over 5,000 years. We are putting that on the backs of people coming behind us. This will be the first year that the national debt exceeds the GDP. Economists will tell you that when the debt-to-GDP ratio reaches 90 percent, at that point economic slowdown is inevitable. We have been doing this for a while now.

From 1850 through 2000, our economy grew at a rate of 3.3 percent, at least, even during wars. From 2001 through 2014, it grew at rate of 1.8 percent. That seems to be the new norm. You probably saw the headlines recently in the last quarter—it grew at like 0.2 percent. This is not good; I don't care how anybody tries to spin it. This is what happens when you have a GDP-debt ratio of 103 percent.

This is what we have got to fix. We have got to fix it immediately. We cannot continue along that pathway. It will have dire consequences in the long run.

Without vouching for Carson's specific numbers here, I would be happy if he made such talk the centerpiece of his campaign, particularly at a time when the new GOP congressional majority is already going wobbly on spending. If the guy's gonna be sucking up oxygen in the race, he might as well be focusing monomaniacally on the giant sucking sound of debt service.

Sadly, those weren't the only comments Carson made this week….

* In Iowa, Carson advocated using oil subsidies to, uh, build ethanol fueling stations!

* On Newsmax TV, when asked what President Carson would do to preserve traditional marriage in the face of a possible Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, he issued the following gobbledygook:

First of all, we have to understand how the Constitution works. the president is required to carry out the laws of the land. The laws of the land come from the legislative branch. So if the legislative branch creates a law or changes a law, the executive branch has a responsibly to carry it out. It doesn't say they have the responsibility to carry out a judicial law.

* And in a CNBC interview published today, he doubled down on his comment that President Barack Obama "reminds you of a psychopath."

Neither the chin-scratching policy pronouncements nor the rhetorical grenade-lobs are likely to hurt Carson's prospects in the short term, since part of the allure of outsiderdom is to say unspeakable things. But they could hobble his ability to be a persuasive antagonist to the Washington debt machine, which would be a missed opportunity.

NEXT: The War on Drugs Encourages Roadside Sexual Assaults by Cops

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  1. We owe that money to ourselves, so it doesn’t count. Right?

  2. His comments on legislative supremacy are not “gobbledegook,” they’re perfectly understandable and have a tradition behind them.

    Of course, he happens to be wrong, but don’t say he’s incomprehensible.

    And legislative supremacy is bad, but hardly worse than *judicial* supremacy, which is the sort of “gobbledegood” so many other politicians want us to swallow.

    1. It’s gobbledegook because he obviously doesn’t believe it. If a legislature passed laws requiring, say, Christian churches to perform gay weddings, I doubt Carson would be in favor of courts upholding the law in the name of “legislative supremacy”.

      1. My online Webster’s gives this definition:

        “: speech or writing that is complicated and difficult to understand

        “: wordy and generally unintelligible jargon”

        1. Carson’s speech qualifies as “wordy and generally unintelligible jargon”. He doesn’t actually believe in Legislative Supremacy. TEAM RED just likes hear people say the phrase a lot since they’re currently in control of congress.

      2. My online Webster’s gives this definition:

        “: speech or writing that is complicated and difficult to understand

        “: wordy and generally unintelligible jargon”

    2. When you are talking about government, someone should have supremacy. What other alternative is there to judicial and legislative supremacy? Isn’t having the final say on matters of law sort of a big part of what courts are for? I agree it can get as stupid as legislation sometimes, but what is the alternative?

      Constitutions are great, but they don’t enforce themselves.

      What I would like to have is a supreme court whose only job and only power is to strike down unconstitutional laws.

      1. AMEN!

        I’ll go ya one better. I’d like them to be required to sign off on every law’s constitutionality prior to implementation.

        1. I’d like them to be required to sign off on every law’s constitutionality prior to implementation.

          I’d be okay with that if it didn’t mean they’d eventually get lazy and start rubber-stamping everything that Congress decided to shit out.

          1. You’d need to leave the option of future review open as well. Entirely possible to get periods of shitbag justices.

      2. When you are talking about government, someone should have supremacy.

        I meant to say “will have supremacy”. Whether it should is neither here nor there, because it is going to happen.

      3. This ability to void unconstitutional laws needs to be extended at least to the states, but best of all to ordinary people filing ordinary lawsuits, without needing to prove immediate harm; it has to be possible to judge laws on their face in addition to actual harm from enforcing them.

  3. …after seven years of a previously inexperienced president made originally famous by his speeches and books.

    How. DARE. You.

    And after a certain magazine’s contributors en masse supported said president’s candidacy. I remember it quite clearly.

    1. Dr. Carson should out-Disraeli Disraeli:

      “While you were doing brain-dead ‘community organizing,’ I was performing brain surgery.

      “What’s that you say? I can’t hear you over the sound of my own awesomeness.”

  4. “First of all, we have to understand how the Constitution works. the president is required to carry out the laws of the land. The laws of the land come from the legislative branch. So if the legislative branch creates a law or changes a law, the executive branch has a responsibly to carry it out. It doesn’t say they have the responsibility to carry out a judicial law.”

    This is a ridiculous way of formulating the argument, but isn’t it kind of an argument against judicial activism? I understand where he’s coming from, in that he’s basically arguing that if the court completely oversteps its bounds and just starts legislating from the bench you could argue there’s no obligation to obey absurd rulings like that. It’s actually similar to the arguments John has made regarding judicial supremacy.

    Doesn’t change the fact that he made the argument like a moron, but I kind of get what he means.

    1. It’s actually similar to the arguments John has made regarding judicial supremacy.

      John claims that proving legislation is not constitutional isn’t proving a negative.

      So if proving something is not something isn’t proving a negative, I wonder what is.

    2. Do the executives in DC and Chicago has an obligation to continue enforcing the respective gun control laws rather than enforce the “judicial law” made in Heller and MacDonald?

    3. It’s not incomprehensible, but it is wrong.

      Judicial activism is not good or bad. It’s good when they get it right and bad when they get it wrong. I wish courts would be more activist when it comes to striking down unconstitutional laws.

      1. I think that depends on what is meant by judicial activism. Striking down legislation is just the courts doing their job. Activism is when they rewrite laws or create legislation from the bench. Leftists, being the dishonest pricks that they are, conflate striking down legislation with activism. That way they can accuse people who support the courts doing their job as supporters of judicial activism.

        1. Both senses seem to get a lot of play, so I’m just going with that.

          And I don’t think complaining about courts striking down laws is limited to the left.

          1. I didn’t say it was. Though it’s generally the right that complains about the courts creating or modifying legislation on behalf of the left. So when they do, the left dishonestly says that it’s the same thing as striking down legislation, which the right generally approves of in principle, so they can dishonestly say the complainers are hypocrites.

            1. OK. That sounds about right.

  5. we have representatives who applaud themselves if the deficit does not go up as much this quarter as it did last quarter. They are completely out to lunch.

    Woah now. How can we expect this guy to attract moderates with rough-and-tumble language like that?

    1. Seriously, doesn’t he know that cuts to expected rates of increase means we’re living in an austerity apocalypse?

  6. Inspirational speaker? Have you ever actually heard him speak? Both boring and dumb.

  7. Obama “reminds you of a psychopath.”

    99% of all politicians that get elected are psychopaths.

    1. Democracy is a contest between pathological liars to see who is the best at hiding their sociopathy from the most people possible.

    2. Cmon now. You are exaggerating. It’s probably only like 96%. But may be as low as 80%.

  8. Anyone who focuses on the debt ceiling isn’t serious about reducing the debt. The spending is done in spending bills; that’s where the actual cutting has to be done. But cutting actual programs require taking political risk because you have to tell voters somewhere you’re not giving them money any more.

    Focusing on the debt ceiling is a way to talk about cutting spending while pushing the responsible for actually doing it onto someone else. Like some sort of Shroedinger’s socialist, congress gets to simultaneously spend and not spend money.

    It also may not even work, because if the debt ceiling ever actually triggers, it sets off a constitutional crisis. The President is not allowed to not spend money appropriate by congress (Train v. New York). They President is not allowed to spend money over the debt ceiling. And the President is not allowed to repudiate debt. So it’s not really clear what is supposed to happen when the debt limit is exceeded.

    1. Is that what he’s saying – ignore spending bills in favor of the debt ceiling?

      1. He has previously called for across-the-board 10% cuts in every federal department & program, FWIW.

      2. If congress says to spend $2 billion, and the debt ceiling only allows $1 billion more to be spent, who decides which $1 billion gets spend and which doesn’t?

        1. The President can start by wielding his veto pen.

    2. I believe the popularity in discussing the debt ceiling comes from the idea that we’ve given up controlling congress, so we’ll draw this imaginary line in the sand which kind-of-sort-of ties their hands every few years, forcing them to admit that nothing in any government budget has ever ever been actually cut not ever once, and make them boldly raise it in the light of day.

    3. Congress has the authority to spend & to emit bills of credit, so I think what’s supposed to happen is Treasury is supposed to kite checks. Who’s going to question that those checks are good?

  9. First of all, we have to understand how the Constitution works. the president is required to carry out the laws of the land. The laws of the land come from the legislative branch. So if the legislative branch creates a law or changes a law, the executive branch has a responsibly to carry it out. It doesn’t say they have the responsibility to carry out a judicial law.

    So did Eisenhower act unconstitutionally using national guard troops to enforce the ruling in Brown v. Board of education?

    1. Maybe, maybe not, but cutting legal corners was totally justified to bring us to the present era of quality, fully-integrated public schools where racial good feeling flourishes.

  10. https://twitter.com/pennyred

    The saddest leftist after the Labour loss:

    “Only a radical coalition of those whose interests are not represented by the neoliberal elite can possibly stand against them now.”

    “Cringing, equivocating neoliberalism-lite was never going to be an effective alternative to Tory austerity. And now we know why.”

    “I was ten in 1997. I hear there was once a passionate Labour Party that stood up for the poor and dispossessed, but it’s a fairytale to me.”

    :'(

    1. I almost, almost went back to Facebook this morning if only to savor the tears of my leftist English acquaintances.

    2. “Only a radical coalition of those whose interests are not represented by the neoliberal elite can possibly stand against them now.”

      Man, that doesn’t evoke a memory of anything, does it?

      1. I find it ironic that much of the takedown of Labour was at the hands of the even-more-leftist SNP.

        Letting Scotland separate and be run by the SNP would be amusing in a Chavista kind of way.

  11. Fuck Carson. Jesus can fix the national debt. The motherfucker owns a thousand hills dripping with millions of USDA prime.

  12. I am against the deficit and against government debt. However, this is incorrect:

    This will be the first year that the national debt exceeds the GDP.

    The US federal debt exceeded the GDP at the end of WWII.

    1. So it was the second time in history that one government-fabricated number exceeded a second government-fabricated number.

  13. OT: Federal judge tosses challenge to Washington’s i594 which requires background check for any gun ‘transfer’ on grounds that no one’s gone to jail for it yet.

    A federal judge on Thursday threw out a lawsuit challenging parts of Washington state’s new law expanding background checks on gun transfers, saying gun-rights activists couldn’t challenge it because they aren’t being prosecuted for violating it.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/se…..nd-checks/

    1. Standing is so fucked up. If the government has a power to do something it shouldn’t have the power to do, any potential victim should be able to sue. What the fuck happened to us that we’ve become such state-fearing fucks?

      1. Shouldn’t “not being able to transfer the gun” be standing enough. Why should you have to be arrested to be harmed by the law? That judge sucks at logic.

        1. I’m no lawyer (or doctor) but I’m guessing that the judge is going by the simple legal precept that one must ‘show harm’ to successfully sue. I guess.

          A friend of mine said it best about i594:

          “It’s a conundrum: voter passed intitiative was so poorly written and so arduous as to be ineffective and unenforceable. Yet it will never ever be repealed, amen. So it can only be enforced selectively as an “add-on” to other criminal charges if the perp is evil enough.”

          I felt he summed it up best. This is what happens when New York politicians “go national”.

          1. I agree with that principle as a practical matter for nonconstitutional cases, but it makes no sense with civil liberties. And the government isn’t consistent about it. Some laws can be struck down as “facially invalid,” which implies in those cases that everyone has standing. Why that sometimes but not all the time?

            It’s all quite simple. The government has to be able to do whatever it wants to do, and the courts are part of the government. Reading the insane twists those opinions go through to make things “legal” is a chore indeed.

            Viewing the last century as one long coup d’?tat is not an inaccurate perspective.

        2. Because the gun rights activists who filed the case can all pass a background check, and thus the law is not actually stopping them from being able to transfer the gun.

          To have standing, they’d have to find someone who can’t pass a background check and thus is prevented from getting a firearm by the law. The problem is finding someone that qualifies who wouldn’t be a total PR disaster.

          1. Only if you percieve the ‘harm’ to be the failure of a background check.

            There was a small WWII museum that had to return all of their displayed firearms to the owners because they didn’t have the staff to perform all the paperwork, and didn’t want to accidentally run afoul of the law.

            This is what’s at issue. The wording and meaning of ‘transfer’ is so deliberately vague that anyone at any time could potentially become a felon. It has nothing to do with being able or not being able to pass a bg check, it has to do with the fact that it created a dodgy legal environment where your actions could be criminalized without intent.

            The Washington State Patrol keeps assuring people that their interpretation of transfer is more nuanced than the text of the law. So we have the management within a particular law enforcement agency that at this time assures us that we can transfer away, as long as it doesn’t meet the limit of what some guys sitting around a confrence table have in their heads. For now.

            The truly powerful law is not the law with clear, bright lines and easy to understand strictures. The powerful law is the one that’s vague and open-ended and can be randomly and arbitrarily enforced.

            That’s what i594 created.

          2. I think it was already illegal to transfer a gun to someone who is legally not allowed to own a gun. So I don’t know if that would count as a harm either.

            It seems to me that anyone to whom a law applies, whether or not they have been directly affected by it, should have standing to challenge the law.

            1. It is. It’s just that the law didn’t require a background check.

              So the difficulty of writing an initiative demanding a background check for these so-called transfers becomes very tricky the harder you look at it.

              The idea behind the law was to shut down private sellers who buy, sell and trade large numbers of firearms to strangers over craigslist and what not.

              It’s pretty reasonable to assume that a number of guns above zero were getting into the hands of people who nominally fail a background check. How many, no one could say, and there was little evidence that suggested the number was high.

              But when trying to define a ‘transfer’, everyone in their heads were thinking “sales to strangers”. What about gifts? Giveaways? What if I don’t ‘sell’ you the gun at all but give it to you, and then you… give me some cash not related to the gun? Like, I’ll buy that bag of garbage from you for $500. Oh look, you threw away your used Walther PPQ! Jackpot!

              So the law had to be written broadly as a ‘transfer’. Essentially, it describes the ‘passing of a firearm to another person’.

              In the case of the WWII museum, the guns weren’t being transferred to a person, but to an institution. So who has to pass the background check. The owner? The Curator? Gladys who works at the front counter? The Janitor? The college kid with the temporary job who sets up the displays? Everyone on staff?

              It all seems so simple in the law, but it gets very tricky in practice.

      2. Ferguson, Ballmer, Cleveland, New York, the chick in Iowa who was forced to give the cop head, about a million dead dogs, etc etc etc ad nauseam…

  14. in the last quarter?it grew at like 0.2 percent.

    Obviously, this is the fault of ill advised radical tea party austerity. We can get GDP back up to where it belongs by investing in education and strengthening our national defense. Also, INFRASTRUCTURE!

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  16. Alternate alt text on second picture: “It’s real simple now, see?”

    1. In Edward G. Robinson’s gangster voice.

      1. That reminds me of a line he had that was simultaneously among the best & worst ever on screen. It was in a movie produced for TV in which he portrayed an old, slightly demented guy who knew too much. Everyone thought he was having a paranoid delusion until the concluding moment when an assassin’s gunshot came in the presence of the old guy’s son & the old guy’s last words as he died were, “You see?”

        It was a riotous crack-up line because of who the actor was. But that effect ran entirely against the gravity of the scene. It was like the entire movie was a setup for a great joke line, which however vitiated its setup to a dramatic conclusion. Were we supposed to take all that’d gone on in that movie before as an extremely clever deadpan comedy, or not?

  17. This guy seems to be an excellent example of how being really good at one thing tells you very little about how good you will be at other, unrelated things.

    Stick to neurosurgery, Ben. Your talents are clearly wasted in other pursuits.

    1. Well, brain surgery does require an analytical mind, unlike reading from a teleprompter.

      1. What about rocket surgery?

    2. Kinda like how people who are really good at getting elected suck at things like, I dunno, governing.

  18. The idea behind the law was to shut down private sellers who buy, sell and trade large numbers of firearms to strangers over craigslist and what not.

    And how many such persons does anyone seriously believe exist? And what could possibly lead anyone to believe those persons will give a shit about this law, if they are essentially engaged in retail weapons dealing without an FFL?

    Why not approach this as a tax issue? The law imposes an extraneous cost on every transaction; those background checks aren’t free.

    1. And how many such persons does anyone seriously believe exist?

      Doesn’t matter. To the Bloombergian anti-gun crowd, one was too many.

      To be fair, I know some people in my circles that do. They’re law abiding people and just buy and sell a lot of guns. They buy a gun (used from someone else), own it for a while, get bored, sell it.

      And what could possibly lead anyone to believe those persons will give a shit about this law, if they are essentially engaged in retail weapons dealing without an FFL?

      I don’t know what the FFL limits for gun sales is– I believe there is one– but you can legally buy and sell guns locally without an FFL. You just can’t do any mail transfers of firearms. The whole ‘internet gun sales’ concept was a fabrication by the left. All of those ‘cheaperthandirt/gunbroker’ sales places require the gun be sent to an FFL.. who runs a background check and then gives it to you, for a fee.

  19. Also, my pet theory regarding the drive for “universal” background checks is to get the vast number of guns which were sold pre- ’68 onto somebody’s books, for purposes to be revealed at some future date.

    1. All the more reason to hope for my 3D printer that will manufacture my phased plasma rifle.

      1. Need we guess as to its range of wattage?

      2. Just what you see here, buddy.

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  21. Love him or hate him, one thing we know for sure…Ben Carson is a horrible orator. He doesn’t rouse the masses. He puts them to sleep. I know that’s not a prerequisite to run for president, but in this day and age, it’s kind of needed to win the office.

  22. I owe the balance on my mortgage. I get guaranteed online installment loans, so I owe a payment this month. I owe a payment every month. So the total I owe is actually many times the balance. Legally owed is different from what is promised. The government does not owe anyone social security or any entitlement. But so many politicians have promised what is not legally binding that failing to pay what people feel entitled to is unthinkable. So there are many ways to calculate what is owed. All of those ways are factually correct.

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