Ben Carson: I'm Going To Turn HUD From Most Corrupt Federal Department To "Most Honest"

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In an interview with Hugh Hewitt, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson outlined his plan to overhaul a federal department which is often described as a "garden of corruption."

"My goal is to change that perception completely, to be the most honest department in the government," he said.

Host Hugh Hewitt commented about this particular department: "HUD has always been a garden of corruption. Bad stories come out of HUD over the course of four to eight years. It seems like inevitably, a scandal erupts."

Carson explained: "We’re already putting in place a structure so that we can monitor where every penny goes... You know, when I started doing that, these people looked at me like I had six heads."

"I was told when I came into HUD that it was the most bureaucratic organization on Earth, and that you would get no cooperation, because people would only be interested in preserving their little fiefdoms," Carson said. "I have not found that to be the case at all."

"We will absolutely be keeping a scorecard, and we will be making it clear what is going on. And you’re going to see, I think, a very substantial change in the opinion of a lot of people when they see results as opposed to rhetoric that we normally have with political administrations," he coninued.

Carson cheerfully adds: "Surgeons get things done. They don’t sit around and talk about it all the time. The patient would be dead by that time."

Transcript via the Hugh Hewitt show:

HH: Now traditionally, I go back to the Reagan years when I started in government. HUD has always been a garden of corruption. Bad stories come out of HUD over the course of four to eight years. It seems like inevitably, a scandal erupts. How are you putting up guardrails to prevent that from happening in the Carson tenure at HUD?

BC: Well, we’re already putting in place a structure so that we can monitor where every penny goes.

HH: Great.

BC: You know, when I started doing that, these people looked at me like I had six heads.

HH: (laughing)

BC: But I think they’re starting to understand, you know, what we’re doing now. That will make a huge difference. People, my goal is to change that perception completely, to be the most honest department in the government.

HH: Oh, that’s a great goal. That’s a terrific goal. Now let me talk to you about the President. How much time do you get to talk with him about your agenda, whether it’s Liberty City or the inner city, or whether it’s developmentally disabled or families in crisis? How much time do you get on his calendar?

BC: Pretty much anytime I want. And we’re quite well-aligned. You know, we’ve talked about the goals of empowering people, not maintaining people, not just putting a roof over people’s head, recognizing that if we’re going to develop our population, you have to take a holistic approach looking at education, looking at health care, transportation, looking at, you know, job creation. All of these things are important. And you know, we’re trying to eliminate a lot of poverty, also. And you have to understand, what are the factors that drive poverty in our country? You’re probably familiar with the Brookings Institute study, a big study, that said there are three things that a person can do that will reduce their chances of living in poverty to 2% or less. Number one, graduate from high school, number two, get married, and number three, wait until you are married to have children.

HH: Yup.

BC: Those three things, you know, you get a 98-plus percent chance of not living in poverty. And yet, we don’t talk about these things. To some degree, it’s become taboo to talk about these kinds of things. And you know, we need to bring that back into the mix when you’re developing a community. You know, almost every community has schools that are all boarded up. Well, open those back up and make them into vision centers where we have people in there who can help the young people realize there’s more than just five occupations. There’s thousands of occupations, and what do you need to do in order to prepare yourself for those occupations? And you know, we need child care for the young girls who get pregnant. Their education ends at that point. And they become dependents. What we need to be able to do is give them that opportunity to get that GED, get their associates degree, their Bachelor’s degree, their Master’s degree, become independent and teach that to their children so we can begin to break these cycles of poverty. Unless we begin to take a holistic approach like that, the patchwork will never work.

HH: Salina Zito, who is a terrific columnist for the New York Post, wrote a piece on Sunday, Dr. Carson, about all the abandoned motels in America. The advent of power steering and the interstate sort of took out their reason for existing, and they’re boarded up and they’re not in use, and they’re all over the country. You know, you don’t need any new programs, but it sure would be good to repurpose a lot of the physical structure, as you just said, old elementary schools, old motels, and just put money into the hands of local communities to get special needs people and underserved communities and pregnant girls, whatever it is, to get money out to them fast. And speed matters. Are you going to accelerate this process?

BC: That’s going, remember, I’m a surgeon.

HH: A-ha.

BC: You know, surgeons get things done. They don’t sit around and talk about it all the time. The patient would be dead by that time.

HH: So when we look back at one year in HUD, is there going to be a report card that says look at these places in the United States, and you’ll see what we did?

BC: I would be very happy to see that.

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