Ben Carson in His Own Words
After five years of President Obama, we want a dynamic conservative candidate who we can believe in to take us to 2016. With names on the horizon like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, and Nikki Haley, we have some promising politicians; and another name has risen to the top: Dr. Ben Carson.
Ben Carson is the latest potential presidential candidate to be anointed by conservatives. Less than a year after his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, the 61-year old neurosurgeon, known for his deeply held religious beliefs as well as his determination to live the American Dream, has gained support from many conservative organizations like the Tea Party, right-to-life groups, Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Works, and David Horowitz's Freedom Center .
Carson's post-election entrance onto the national stage at the 2013 Prayer Breakfast gave despondent conservatives new hope. The famous surgeon criticized the President's signature health law and mocked political correctness while the President sat stone faced. Carson's boldness made headlines from MSNBC to far-right alternative blogs.
The decidedly political speech, different from his 1997 Prayer Breakfast address, was a triumph and made him an instant hit with stalwarts on the right. Glenn Beck actually said "I love you" during an interview when Carson told him his favorite person in history was George Washington. Rush Limbaugh thinks Carson "has everybody in the Democrat Party scared to death." Mark Levin and Sarah Palin have lauded Carson on their sites.
Now, as a Tea Party favorite with aspirations to run for president, and a self-proclaimed convert to conservatism, Carson has an obligation to explain himself when his words at times don't match conservative views on sacrosanct issues.
Just this week, gun rights reporter Kurt Hofmann writing for the St. Louis Examiner, wrote a column with the title: "When It Comes to Guns, Dr. Ben Carson Still Doesn't Get It." In his piece, Hofmann revisits an interview Carson had with Glenn Beck back in March when the doctor suggested keeping guns out of the hands of city dwellers; thereby treating the bearing of arms as a "licensing" issue, not as a "fundamental right."
But Dr. Carson's forte is medicine, not gun rights, and he has written extensively on healthcare and has been interviewed about the topic countless times. He now has a regular gig on Fox News and a column in the Washington Times. This past week, Carson appeared on GretaWire on Fox News. Greta Van Susteren asked Dr. Carson if he was surprised doctors were getting out of the business because of Obamacare regulations, and he said he wasn't surprised.
Carson: I talk to doctors all over the country ...who are constantly facing similar [situations]...it costs a lot of money in order to upgrade to an electronic system and even more concerning...you put all of this information into this electronic [system] and make it accessible to people who perhaps you don't want it to be accessible to...One of the reasons that private practice is disappearing is because all these different requirements and costs are so onerous.
...I don't know how this happened to us. This is America and we've allowed this to happen. I'm not giving up. I think there's a very good chance we can reverse this and we can start doing things in the way that we've done them in the past and bring back free enterprise and the kind of competition that creates excellence and innovation.
Greta: How can we "reverse" the situation?
Carson: We need to educate the populace...We need to talk about the history. Not only about this country, but other countries that were free and then changed into something else...people all over the country are [becoming informed] so I have hope.
Does Carson not remember that in 2010 he saw electronic systems as reducing costs in healthcare? In an interview with Patricia Turnier, LL.M of the left-leaning website Megadiversities, Carson takes the discussion to cost containment.
Dr. C. The other point is billings and collections, which constitute a huge portion of the cost. This could easily be done electronically.
P.T. Same thing with medical files.
Dr. C. Exactly. In terms of billings, every single diagnosis has something known as an ICD-9 code. Every single procedure has something known as a CPT code. We have computers. This means all billings and collections can instantly be done electronically.
Let's go back in time and track Dr. Ben Carson's ideas and words.
[At Yale in the late 1960s], I was proud to see groups such as the Black Panthers standing up to brutal police tactics, and though I never joined any radical student organizations, I kept abreast of the activities of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Weathermen, and other groups willing to use aggressive tactics to accomplish "social justice."
Researching a paper for an advanced psychology course, I found some passages that seemed particularly appropriate, and I included them in my writing. I did not, however, indicate that this was the work of someone else; frankly, I had never even heard of the term "plagiarism."
When the professor asked me to make an appointment to discuss my paper, I was befuddled. When I stepped into his office, he pointed out that I had plagiarized and told me that the consequence for doing so normally included expulsion. I could see all of my dreams of becoming a doctor dashed by my stupidity. Even though I did not know the implications of plagiarism, I certainly should have known inherently that what I was doing was wrong. I had done it before without consequences and probably would have continued doing it if I had not been caught. Fortunately for me, the professor was very compassionate, realized that I was naive, and gave me a chance to rewrite the paper. [America the Beautiful, p. 98]
Growing up in Boston and Detroit, I had political views that largely reflected those of the adults around me. By the time I reached high school, the civil rights movement was in full swing, and the Democratic Party was positioning itself as the champion of civil rights. Like most young black people, I accepted the label of Democrat and endeavored to be part of the struggle.
[By 1976], although I was still a Jimmy Carter Democrat, the speeches of Ronald Reagan appealed to me. Even though I ultimately voted for Jimmy Carter both in 1976 and 1980, my political views were gradually shifting, and by 1984, those views were much more consistent with Ronald Reagan's and those of the Republican Party.
Over the years, I found that no political party really represented my views of fairness, decency, and adherence to the principles set forth by the United States Constitution in 1787. So I became a registered Independent and have remained so until this day. [America the Beautiful p. 155-158]
1992 Publishes Think Big
In his book Think Big, Carson thinks disparities in care are due partly to class differences when he writes, "Unfortunately, much of the healthcare system in our country is a class system--those who do not have money usually do not get the best care." But EMTALA, the law which requires hospitals to treat whoever shows up at their ER's, was enacted in 1986 and as a result, poor and rich alike are on equal footing when needing care.
1994 Carson Scholars Fund
Carson and his wife began the Carson Scholars Fund in 1994, which has doled out scholarships to many deserving youngsters. His Carson Reading Rooms have encouraged elementary school children to read and learn.
1996 Death Panels and Seizure of Insurance Company Profits
In an article published in the Harvard Journal of Minority Public Health, [Vol 2 (1), 1996. Carson BS, Washington H: Health Care Reform -- A Paradigm Shift], Carson advocates for death panels, and the forced seizure of profits by the government from insurance companies.
Excerpts from Health Care Reform-A Paradigm Shift:
The most natural question is, who will pay for catastrophic health care? The answer: The government-run catastrophic health care fund. Such a fund would be supported by a mandatory contribution of 10 to 15 percent of the profits of each health insurance company, including managed care operations[...]
As our general population continues to age and as our technical abilities continue to improve we will find ourselves in a position of being able to keep most people alive...well beyond their 100th birthday. The question is "Should we do it simply because we can? It is well known that up to half of the medical expenses incurred in the average American's life are incurred during the last six months of life....rather than putting them in an intensive care unit, poking and prodding them, operating and testing them ad nauseam, why not allow them the dignity of dying in comfort, at home, with an attendant if necessary?...Decisions on who should be treated and who should not be treated would clearly require some national guidelines [...]
1999 Publishes The Big Picture
On Affirmative Action:
A lot of people, including myself, have benefitted from affirmative action...and have, in fact, taken advantage of the opportunity it afforded them. And I think that is the best possible reason for advocating the continuation of some program that allows minorities to have opportunities and improved access to mainstream America.
I would love to hear people engage in a very different conversation--on how we might maintain the benefits of affirmative action but change it and even call it something else. We have to be smart, you see. What I would like to call it is compassionate action.
In a short interview with Jan Helfeld a few weeks ago in November 2013, Carson repeated his 1999 name change suggestion. [see video]
Helfeld: So universities, when they use race as a factor to give extra points to black people [...]
Carson: Well, what I have advocated is something that I have called 'compassionate action', what that means is you look at the whole composite [of the person]...for instance, you look at people from a very difficult background, but not race per se [...]
2001 Creation of Ben Carson Lifetime Scholars Fund
Checking Guidestar last March, we found another non-profit named Ben Carson Lifetime Scholars Fund out of Detroit. The organization began in 2001 and its last 990 form appeared in 2003. It is no longer listed on Guidestar, but a screen shot shows three names listed as S. Akanke Rashad-Omowale, J. Nadir Omowale, and Ike Ogbuike of 1915 N. Washington Ave, Royal Oak, Michigan.
Coincidentally, during Senator Obama's 2008 education speech in Colorado, the President gave a shout-out to one of the men listed on the non-profit's form.
Sen. Obama: Right here in MESA, you have excellent teachers like Ike Ogbuike, who became a math teacher after working as an auto-engineer at Ford and completing a one-year, teacher-residency program.
2005 Congressional Black Caucus "Eradicating Poverty"
In 2005 Carson attended the Congressional Black Caucus' 35th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) with Harry Belafonte, Sen. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Charles Ogletree, Sheila Jackson-Lee, and Danny Davis. The post-Katrina townhall panel was on "eradicating poverty." [see video]
Belafonte said some very accusatory words against America when it was his turn to speak.
This country reveals its moral decay every day of its existence. Our prisons, the largest in the world, are filled with victims of poverty. Poverty is knocking at our door all day long. It sits in the mirror... We're pissed off...we look around for some comfort and we don't find any. We're looking for a second party, it comes in various grades...American people have some decisions to make.
Our foreign policy has made a wreck of this planet. I'm always in Africa. That's my business, I move among the poor, among the tragic...I see American policy written on the walls of oppression everywhere...we know what they did when they gave that contract to Halliburton in Iraq. We know what they do when they suspend minimum wage. They go out and get immigrants to come in and fill and do their dirty work...setting black and brown and immigrants against one another when we should be uniting. [he points to Hillary and calls her "our white progressive socialist"]
I would hope we would get off the rhetoric and get off the redundancy and dig deep in this country and let George W. Bush, let the Christian right and all the folks running away with this nation, let them know their legs have just been amputated.
As a conservative, Carson offered no rebuttal. Instead, when it was his turn to speak, he said this about healthcare in our country:
...health care is one seventh of our economy. There is a lot of money there. However, it is not used to take care of people. There are a lot of special interest groups who get their digs in. Thirty-nine cents of health care dollars go to pay administrative costs...and recognize that we've got something like 45 million people in this country who have no health care at all...
Why don't people starve to death in our nation? Because we have a government sponsored program called Food Stamps...It is a safety net.
...you could do the same thing with health care policy where you could give people a health account and now when Mr. Smith gets that diabetic foot ulcer, instead of going to the Emergency Room...he's going to go to the clinic where it costs one fifth of the amount.
Five years later, in the Megadiversities interview, Dr. Carson held to his position that we need to have neighborhood clinics, but added, "The government needs to find a way to make people go to those clinics."
These statements are very different from Carson's speeches at CPAC, Restoration Weekend and the Values Voters Summit.
2008 Roundtable discussion with Marian Wright Edelman
In 2008, weeks after Obama won the presidency, Carson appeared at a U.S. News and World Report round table Q&A with Marian Wright Edelman, the woman who eulogized Saul Alinsky at his funeral in 1972. When asked to express his feelings about the election, Dr. Carson was excited that those "young black males" finally had their role model. "It's absolutely a wonderful thing that our country can elect somebody who looks like Barack Obama."
Savvy answer? Maybe. But less than two months later Ben Carson, the man who wrote in his 2011 "coming out" book America the Beautiful that he began to gravitate toward Reagan conservatives as early as 1984, showed up on a list of speakers at a Celebration of Change pre-inaugural Gospel concert scheduled for January 17.
The Reverend Al Sharpton and other notables were also listed. A special feature of the evening involved paying tribute to a woman who championed abortion in the black community and who attended communist meetings as a young activist, Dorothy Height. Why did Carson agree to be named as a participant in a "celebration of change?" Why would he agree to be on the same stage as Sharpton? Other black conservatives like Herman Cain, Thomas Sowell or Clarence Thomas were not on the program.
2008 January 11, PBS Q&A on religion and ethics
On healthcare as a "moral issue:"
Dr. Carson: I see the insurance issue, the coverage of people for health care in our country, as a huge moral issue. And, you know, for the richest country in the world to have 47 million people without health insurance is ridiculous.
Obama used the same talking point in August, 2009 when he addressed religious leaders and told them healthcare is a "core ethical and moral obligation...In the wealthiest nation on earth, we are neglecting to live up to that call."
2008 Publishes Take the Risk
Carson writes in his 2008 book Take the Risk that George Lucas, the Hollywood producer/director, was an "extremely encouraging friend." Carson states most health insurance companies were reducing their reimbursement rates for surgeons in 2001, so he thought about quitting rather than deal with the hassle. Lucas advised him on professional risk-taking. Carson credited Lucas, in part, for deciding to drop Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the biggest health insurer in America, from his list of insurers. Anyone with BC/BS coming to him for care would have to pay out-of-pocket.
No issue more defines Dr. Carson than healthcare. In a 2009 Breitbart interview, he talks like a Tea Party member when he says, "It's giving us more government and less autonomy. And I think we should be going in exactly the opposite direction. We should be having more autonomy and less government. And that is the kind of thing that brings the prices down."
In contrast, a year later in an interview with the ultra-liberal site Megadiversities, he brings up death panels, government control over catastrophic insurance and mandatory redistribution of insurance company profits. This interview shows Carson's views have changed little since the 1996 article in Harvard Journal of Minority Public Health.
Carson in Megadiversities interview:
The entire thing is completely out of control. The entire concept of for profits for the insurance companies makes absolutely no sense. 'I deny that you need care and I will make more money.' This is totally ridiculous. The first thing we need to do is get rid of for profit insurance companies. We have a lack of policies and we need to make the government responsible for catastrophic health care. (Emphasis ours)
Between Breitbart and Megadiversities, who is the real Ben Carson when it comes to healthcare? How about his views on racism, Hollywood, affirmative action, communism, the 2nd amendment and immigration?
2009 Contact with Obama Administration 3 Times before ACA Passes
Dr. Carson states on three different occasions that he had contact with the Obama administration prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
1. The Hip Hop Doc interview:
February 2009, The Hip Hoc Doc, a fellow physician from Louisiana, interviewed Carson.
HHD: Do you think President Obama can get this system [healthcare] together?
BC: I've heard from the Obama transition team and was asked about a government position...
HHD: Surgeon general?
In the same interview, he remarks that when Obama asked him to be surgeon general, he said he "respected President Obama," but he had "no desire to take a vow of poverty."
2. Charlotte Hood Hargett Breakfast Club
3. Interview in 2013 with The Politic
In an interview after the 2013 Prayer Breakfast speech, Carson told The Politic the ACA debate was "purely political" and that he "had a conversation with a high-up administration official just before the act was passed..."
The reason that I know it's purely political is that I had a conversation with a high-up administration official just before the act was passed...and I said...if you bring it through with just one party and end up twisting people's arms even to that, you are going to create so much animosity that you are never going to get cooperation[...]
2011 Trip to Cuba
In 2011, Carson writes that he and his wife Candy went to Cuba "recently" with some young business men. Carson's reasons for the trip are unclear but he does offer some negative views of the government-controlled country. However, he adds that the people's "basic healthcare needs are taken care of and they are unlikely to be homeless or starving."
2011 Publishes America the Beautiful
Maybe the real question is not whether healthcare should be available to all, but rather how can we provide universal health care in an efficient and cost-effective way?
Compensation has to be fair...compensation cannot be determined by insurance companies, who make more money by elbowing their way in as the middleman and confiscating as much of the transaction between patient and caregiver as they can.
Basic medical care was provided for all [Australian] citizens at no cost, but everyone had the right to purchase private health insurance, which enables subscribers to enjoy more personalized services and less waiting time. (note: Australia's government provides universal coverage as well as substantial income throughout childhood called "baby bonuses)
When a society faces major changes, such as drastically increased life expectancy, its people should examine the effects of such a change and make logical, appropriate adjustments...we should...devise compassionate methods of easing the burden of aging both on the individual and the family.
I can hear some people screaming after reading this that I am advocating for "death panels"....some people like to put forth terms like this because they stir up emotional responses.
[T]he Republicans [in Washington] have been largely co-opted by the Tea Party...Who is right and who is wrong in this exaggerated tug-of-war is not nearly as important as to how to solve the problem.
In the case of Vietnam, we were trying to stop the spread of communism, which seems like a noble cause to those who hate communism. However, many people love (italics ours) communism, and certainly everyone should have the right to live under the system of their choosing.
[W]e continue to harass and deport many individuals who are simply seeking a better life for themselves and their families."
Prejudice is generally born out of ignorance and the propagation of myths; fortunately, Hollywood and the media have eliminated a great deal of misinformation about different races and nationalities.
One could legitimately ask the question. Which is worse, overt racist behavior by the police, or a society that offered certain segments of its population little in the way of opportunities[...]
My own observations have led me to believe that individuals who are well-educated and who think deeply about matters tend to not have any biases on superficial characteristics...people who are less intellectually sophisticated tend to allow their emotions to be affected by very superficial things, such as skin color.
Unfortunately, basing one's ideas and opinions on superficial traits is rather the common in places where intellectual development is not highly rewarded (our italics)...they might be more inclined to go for the flashy red car than the dull gray hybrid that gets fifty miles top a gallon gasoline[...]
Regime changes in other parts of the world is often accompanied by bloodshed...In 2008 our country experienced a radical political change of direction without firing a single shot or taking a single prisoner. The ability to make monumental changes without civil war is a mighty testament not only to our founders, but also to our current political leaders.
"...If in the future our political leaders begin advocating violence to get their way, we should abandon them in droves..."
2011 The Institute of Medicine
Of particular concern is Carson's membership in the quasi-government agency the Institute of Medicine. The IOM is funded in part by the far left Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which makes no secret of its desire for a single-payer health system.
In 2011 Members of the IOM committee recommended all private health insurers pay for FDA-approved contraception as essential "preventive care" under the new health care law, including drugs that can cause early abortions. Who is on this 15-member board? NARAL and Planned Parenthood representatives as well as a woman who contributed over $40,000 to pro-choice political candidates including Barack Obama.
As a former member of the President's Council on Bioethics, Carson should be familiar with IOM's ideological agenda. The agency has been cited in numerous government studies.
2013 The Second Amendment
Glenn Beck: "Do I have a right to own a semi-automatic weapon?"
Ben Carson: "It depends on where you live...I think if you live in the midst of a lot of people, and I'm afraid that that semi-automatic weapon is going to fall into the hands of a crazy person, I would rather you not have it...But, if you live "out in the country somewhere by yourself, I've no problem."
2013, October, On Single Payer from Eagle Rising:
Dr. Carson: What do you need for good healthcare? You need a patient and you need a healthcare provider. Along has come a middleman to facilitate the relationship. Now it has become the primary entity with the patient and the healthcare provider at its beck and call. Completely turns the situation upside-down. And this is only the beginning. What you will see - mark my words - is that a lot of the insurance companies will begin to fold. People will have fewer and fewer options. Ultimately we will have a single-payer system if we don't stop this from happening. And that will give the government the kind of control that it needs. And, you know, all you have to do is look back through history - and this is something that most people don't, they don't know very much about history, even in this country.
'Ben Carson for President' petitions and PACS have popped up everywhere. The Wall Street Journal posted and editorial titled "Ben Carson for President" days after the February Breakfast speech.
John Phillip Sousa IV, great-grandson of the celebrated composer is now leading the national "Draft Ben Carson for President" committee. Sousa sent an email out to conservatives noting "more than 200,000 Americans...have signed the petition urging Dr. Ben Carson to run for president of the United States." Sousa cited Carson's attack on Obamacare at the Prayer Breakfast in February as the moment he "captured the imagination of the American people...as President he will heal America and unite us as one people..."
Raised by a single but very "frugal" mother, Carson received a scholarship to Yale, and went on to the University of Michigan medical school. At Johns Hopkins, he was distinguished as the youngest Director of Pediatric neurosurgery. Carson has written five books; given thousands of speeches since the late 80's; led a team that successfully separated conjoined twins in Germany; had a Hollywood movie made about his life in 2009; written scads of journal articles; met Presidents; and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In many of his writings Carson places himself above being a Republican or Democrat by saying he is a "pragmatist." He decries politicians who "have no trouble talking on three sides of any two-sided issue." In his 1992 book Think Big, Carson reveals something of his political playbook when he writes, "What you need to know is determined by what group you intend to influence."
No doubt, a pediatric brain surgeon talking about conservative principles is a dream come true for battle-weary Americans. Carson's personal, professional and philanthropic achievements over the last three decades certainly add to the attraction, especially when contrasted with a radical progressive community organizer. But after the last 5 years it would be profoundly unwise not to question, examine and verify the words and actions of anyone, on either side, aspiring to represent real conservatives
M. Catharine Evans works in the healthcare industry and is a regular contributor to American Thinker. Ann Kane is editor of Watchdog Wire North Carolina, a site for citizen journalists. Email Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org