The newest hero of the conservative right is renowned brain surgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson. Carson took it upon himself last week to turn what was suppose to be an apolitical National Prayer Breakfast into a political ambush of President Obama. One would think his rousing speech was an audition for a spot on Fox News or perhaps he has own political ambitions after retiring from medicine. Whatever the case, he took the opportunity to express his disagreement with the President's policies. His remarks were inappropriate for the occasion. It was offensive to say the least given the nature of the event and extremely disrespectful given the President was sitting only a few feet away.
Nevertheless Carson's story is an inspirational one having come from a one-parent home and poverty to achieve an outstanding career as a neurosurgeon. That said, Carson would serve himself well to stick to what he knows - medicine. Politically he offers nothing new with his policy "solutions" except the same old right-wing ideas that do not serve the interests of the poor and middle-class in the country. On taxes for example, Carson proposed a flat tax code, even going as far as quoting from scripture and implying that it was in God’s plan. He uses the analogy of God collecting “tithes” in a "proportional" amount and not differentiating for those whose crops failed versus those who had a bountiful harvest.
Someone should point out Luke 12:48 to the good doctor, “to whomever much is given much will be required.” That sounds like Jesus supported a progressive tax over a fair tax. If Dr. Carson is truly a Christian, he would agree that a progressive tax system is not simply moral, it is necessary. If he is truly a Christian he must surely believe as Jesus did, that we have an obligation to help the most vulnerable in society. Those obligations include funding schools adequately so that all our children have access to decent education. We have to fund food programs so that poor children have access to food, otherwise how can they be expected to learn if they’re hungry. Moreover, as a good Christian, Dr. Carson shouldn’t view the payment of a little more in taxes to take care of our own as a burden. On the contrary, he should view it as supporting the foundation that will produce productive, tax paying citizens and future doctors, scientists, and leaders of the world.
Carson also decided to confront the President on Obamacare. Speaking on medical reform, Carson advocated a Health Savings Accounts (“HSA “) for all , expecting people to shop around for their medical care:
“Here’s my solution: When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account to which money can be contributed — pretax — from the time you’re born ‘til the time you die,” Carson explained.
“If you die, you can pass it on to your family members, and there’s nobody talking about death panels. We can make contributions for people who are indigent. Instead of sending all this money to some bureaucracy, let’s put it in their HSAs. Now they have some control over their own health care. And very quickly they’re going to learn how to be responsible.”
Carson may be an accomplished medical doctor but clearly knows nothing about economics. In his speech, he advocates that people open HSAs (medical savings accounts) to cover all their future medical expenses. So in other words, if you are poor and don't have a lot of disposable income, you should depend on vouchers and contributions. This is basically the Paul Ryan "gut" Medicaid and Medicare and here's a voucher plan. But in this case and ironically, it’s a medical doctor who is basically advocating pushing granny off the cliff in her wheelchair because she can't afford rising medical costs. Or how about the thirty year old woman with a serious genetic illness who has racked up about $1 million in medical bills over the past few years and more to come. I doubt that she would have put away enough in an HSA to cover it all. Carson seems to think that most Americans can just pay for their own healthcare costs out of pocket by simply putting away some of their immense disposable income. He even believes that people will have leftover savings in their HSAs to pass down to their children. Either the doctor hangs out with a lot of rich buddies or nobody he knows ever gets sick.
The National Prayer Breakfast is suppose to be a time for religious dialogue where we put aside partisan debate. Carson’s subject matter had nothing to do with prayer or religion. Instead we had an ambush by a wealthy right-wing brain surgeon voicing opinions on the President’s policies which he should have done backstage or in a private meeting. As a fellow African American who faced personal challenges and overcame them, the president would have even welcomed Carson to the White House, but now the doctor will have to settle for "Hannity" on Fox News.