EXCLUSIVE — Dr. Ben Carson: ‘The Ladders of Opportunity Are There’

Dr Ben Carson profile
Justin Sullivan/AP Photo

Dr. Ben Carson, retired pediatric neurosurgeon and leading 2016 Republican presidential candidate, sat down with Breitbart News for his first interview since returning from a brief vacation from the campaign trail.

The GOP presidential debate on August 6th did wonders for Dr. Carson’s campaign. One month later, he stands firmly in second place behind billionaire businessman Donald Trump in Iowa and is leading in a number of national polls. This positive reception among America’s voters “doesn’t surprise” Dr. Carson.

“When people have an opportunity to actually get a chance to hear me for themselves–as opposed to having me interpreted to them by some media outlet–their reactions are quite different,” Dr. Carson said on a call with Breitbart News. “I knew that after the debate, that a lot more people would get real exposure that would allow them to form a more accurate opinion of who I am.”

Dr. Carson says he’s not sure that there was just one thing that convinced him to run for president. But it was the “persistence of the people, hundreds of thousands, saying ‘You have to do this. You’re the hope that we have to save our nation.'”

“After I heard that for about the millionth time,” Dr. Carson said, “I thought maybe I should start paying more serious attention to what these people are saying.”

Just 27 percent of likely U.S. voters believe America is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen national survey.

Carson contends that running for president wasn’t something that was on his “bucket list,” but he said it was “the passion in people’s eyes and in their voices” that made him “recognize that there are an awful lot of people that are really frightened about the direction of our country.”

Dr. Carson has spoken frankly about his rough upbringing. His mother was a hardworking house cleaner with a third-grade education. His father abandoned the family when Dr. Carson was just 8-years-old. But Sonya set high expectations for her sons.

Dr. Carson knows what poverty feels like.

After trillions in spending in an effort to win the War on Poverty, America still has a sizable underclass. Social theorists have long-argued that a lack of jobs or a bad economy cause crime and poverty rates to rise in America’s blighted communities. Others believe that it is culture that drives the decay. Dr. Carson says there exists a combination of root causes as well as solutions to solve the problem of poverty–solutions that don’t involve government bureaucrats.

“There’s no question that there’s things that we can do as a society to facilitate the rise of people who come from desperate situations,” Dr. Carson said. “That ladders of opportunity are there. We have to do a better job of encouraging people to climb them.”

One of those ladders is a great education. Dr. Carson says, “Education is the great divide in our society.”

“As a country, we should be focused on promoting a quality education for everybody like we once did,” Dr. Carson said. “We should focus on the things that work. We know that there are a lot of private schools and charter schools that work. We also know that a lot of our inner-city public schools do not work. We need to do everything we can to provide parents with choice.”

Roughly 70 percent of America’s k-12 students attend “assigned public schools.

“Providing parents with the freedom to choose their child’s school would cause the schools that are failing our children–for the purpose of survival–to improve. It’s a win win situation,” Dr. Carson said.

He feels the same way about choice when it comes to health care. Dr. Carson said.

I would have a different plan than Obamacare, one that works for all Americans. My plan would include health savings accounts, from birth to death. Transitional health care benefits that can be handed down to your family members after you pass. People should have the ability to shift funds in their health savings account within their family, giving them enormous flexibility to cover cost should an emergency arise. This would drive down the cost of catastrophic health insurance. Allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines would also decrease costs. Improving the economy will in turn reduce the number of people who rely on Medicaid.

The latest Real Clear Politics average of all polls show that 48.4 percent of America still opposes Obamacare, while just 40 percent say they favor the health care law.

“If we can implement those policy ideas, among others, nobody would want Obamacare,” Dr. Carson said.

“The idea of eliminating the Veterans Affairs Administration came to me from many veterans that I have talked with,” Dr. Carson said in response to a Military Times article that wrongly claimed that he wanted to abolish the VA. “To me the issue is that we have people who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom and when they return, they get treated like second class citizens.” Carson added:

We have 20 veterans committing suicide everyday, and that’s the tip of the iceberg. That’s what I’m concerned about. What I want is a discussion about what we as a society can do to honor our veterans so that they don’t have to go through this morass. So many of them go from being an enlisted man to a veteran and many of them fall into the cracks between the bureaucratic organizations. Our plan must involve pathways to make that transition a smooth one. This will involve what I am advocating for, a much-improved Veteran’s Affairs Administration.

A majority of Americans want Congress to reject the President Obama-brokered deal over Iran’s nuclear program. Only 41 percent of Democrats want Congress to approve the agreement. Dr. Carson says the current deal being voted on as early as this week is illegitimate and is not binding.

“This is an executive deal and not a treaty” Dr. Carson said. “President Obama didn’t pursue a treaty because that would have required two thirds of the Senate to ratify. And because it is an executive deal, it is not binding. So on January 20th, 2017, a Carson administration would renegotiate a real and better deal.”

On immigration, Dr. Carson says:

Number one, we must secure the border. It is doable. We have the ability to do it. We just don’t have the political will to do it. Once we seal the border, we must crack down on those who hire illegal immigrants. If there are no jobs, then there’s no reason for them to come. Then we deal with the ones who are here already. Anyone who has overstayed their visa, they’re breaking the law. And they should be treated as criminals. I think it would be a very smart policy, also, that if the country they came from doesn’t take their citizen back, that’s 10 visas that will not be issued to citizens of that country in the future. This puts pressure on other countries to honor our immigration laws.

In terms of the others who have come here, we can allow them to become guest workers. They will be given a window in which they have to apply. This does not make them eligible for benefits. If they want health care, for instance, then they will have to pay for health care. This does not give them a right to vote. This does not make them citizens. Illegal immigrants with criminal records won’t be given the opportunity to apply for our guest worker program.

Dr. Carson says “It might sound good to round up illegal immigrants” and “send them somewhere,” but “that would be a multi-year process that would completely jam up our legal system, and that would not be practical.”

Dr. Carson once said that “All lives matter . . . including the ones being exterminated by abortionists” at Planned Parenthood. There are more than 20 comprehensive healthcare clinics for every 1 Planned Parenthood facility. And according to a map published by Breitbart News that shows many Planned Parenthood facilities within walking distance of black and Latino neighborhoods, it’s no surprise that non-Hispanic black women who made up about 6.6 percent of the population accounted for 35.7 percent of the abortions performed in 2010.

Dr. Carson says he hopes that the American people will soon “come to the conclusion” that their tax dollars shouldn’t be used to subsidize America’s largest abortion provider.

If given the chance to engage members of “Black Lives Matters,” Dr. Carson said he would encourage them to focus more attention on those things that are “devastating their own neighborhoods” and that are “causing much more death and carnage than police.”

“I’m not saying that there are no rotten police, because there are,” Dr. Carson added. “But there are rotten pharmacists. There are rotten teachers and rotten doctors. But we don’t go out and condemn the entire group because there are a few rotten apples.”

There was a line in the popular TV show The Wire that referenced Dr. Carson—the context was an underprivileged young man who aspired to do great things like “become a pediatric neurosurgeon like Dr. Carson.” As folks rewatch the show, some black cultural figures have suggested that that line no longer rings true given Dr. Carson’s emergence as a conservative presidential candidate. However, Dr. Carson believes that his status as a role model for young black children has only increased.

Dr. Carson said:

The black people, the black parents, that I talk to are extremely encouraged by my story. Those people aren’t listening to the progressives who are threatened by my story and who are fearful of the policies that I am advocating–in terms of self-reliance, hard work, and the idea that you are the captain of your ship. Liberals and progressives often put forth the narrative that blacks are victims. I reject that idea. We have the responsibility to help each other. That’s what true compassion is all about. Allowing people to ascend out of the depths of dependency so they can become shining examples of success. And that’s what I’m all about.

On Hillary Clinton, Dr. Carson said the former secretary of state is “an excellent illustration of the progressive movement.”

Dr. Carson see 2016 as the “year America will strike back at Washington D.C. The people of this country are tired of the political pundits and the ruling class. We are where Thomas Jefferson foresaw when he said that the people would realize that the entire system is turned upside down, and they would realize it and they would rise up. That’s what’s happening.”


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