One conservative voice in Washington who had appeared increasingly sympathetic to the plight of Black people in America wrote an op-ed Monday showing that perhaps he is still as out of touch with reality as many have long suspected. Newt Gingrich penned the opinion piece for Newsweek in which he showered Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson with lavish praise for what he insisted was “both helping poor Americans and enforcing the law.”
The former Speaker of the House, who has been accused of racist dog whistling and once said that stop-and-frisk champion Rudy Giuliani “saved” Black lives in New York City, later revised his tone-deaf tune to accurately say that white people don’t understand discrimination (we’re sure he meant to say “racism” here).”
And while HUD did agree on Monday to provide $5 million for carbon monoxide detectors in public housing, that decision came after at least two people died on Carson’s watch earlier this year.
But with Gingrich’s op-ed, it appeared the lifelong Republican may be blinded by his partisan ties, a factor that cannot be dismissed in the Trump era. After all, how else do you explain Gingrich glossing over the fact that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined the former neurosurgeon who has proven incompetent leading HUD broke the law by buying a dining room set for his office? Carson spent $31,000 for the dining set, although he technically didn’t need it, and another $8,000 on a dishwasher in the office kitchen. “Agencies are required to notify Congress of expenditures over $5,000 to furnish an executive’s office,” according to Politico.
Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee in charge of HUD, said in a statement that this apparent crime was “another example of the Trump administration trying to cast aside the law if it doesn’t suit them. I am also disturbed,” Reed continued, “by the pattern of false statements and attempts to conceal this incident, mislead the public, and prevent Congress and the American people from seeing how taxpayer dollars are being mismanaged.”
That fact alone rendered Gingrich’s claim that Carson was “enforcing the law” all but a lie.
It also appeared to be a misnomer to say that Carson was “helping the poor,” if recent reports were any indication.
Recently proposed HUD policy showed that Carson was a major proponent for a rule that would effectively evict tens of thousands of immigrant children from the nation’s public housing. The Washington Post reported that the rule would require each person living in public housing to be of “eligible immigration status.” If the parents or guardians of children are undocumented immigrants, they would face eviction and likely be forced to bring their children with them regardless of their children’s legal statuses.
“Tens of thousands of deeply poor kids, mostly U.S. citizens, could be evicted and made homeless because of this rule, and — by HUD’s own admission — there would be no benefit to families on the waiting list,” Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, told the Post earlier this month.
Carson teased the country earlier this year by reneging on his resignation despite one report finding that public housing residents’ safety and health have dangerously declined under the leadership of Carson.
“HUD has lost hundreds of staff members in the wake of a hiring freeze mandated by President Donald Trump. HUD’s enforcement office, tasked with going after the worst landlords, now has the lowest staff levels since 1999, according to a federal watchdog,” NBC News reported last year. “At the same time, Carson has proposed raising rents on poor families, requiring them to pay a higher percentage of their income for housing, and the Trump administration has pushed — so far unsuccessfully — for steep budget cuts.”
Throughout it all, it was revealed that Carson has kept a light work schedule. During a 31-week period in 2017, Carson gave himself five Fridays off. On five other Fridays, he left work before 2 p.m. to catch a flight to South Florida, where he has a $4.3 million mansion. For six other Fridays, his workday ended by 3 p.m. When he did work a full day at the end of the week, it was never more than a traditional 8-hour day.
Given those facts, it wasn’t really clear what Gingrich’s words, written under the guise of promoting American families, were even talking about.
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