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HUD Secretary Ben Carson did not mention pervasive wage stagnation, dismal jobs opportunities, the lack of affordable healthcare and quality education opportunities as other possible sources of inter-generational poverty.(Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Amid GOP Assault on Safety Net, Trump's HUD Secretary Says Poverty Mostly a "State of Mind"

Ben Carson suggest being poor is just a personal problem

Jon Queally

Republicans want to slash the nation's social safety net, but that's apparently okay by some top Republicans because "poverty" is just in the minds of the nation's poor.

Offering the latest evidence that the individual President Donald Trump chose to lead one of the nation's largest anti-poverty programs has little but contempt for the low-income people he was appointed to serve, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson says that being poor, really, is mostly a "state of mind."

According to clips from an interview that will air on SiriusXM radio on Wednesday evening, Carson has done a lot of thinking about what makes poverty tick.

"I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind. You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street and I guarantee in a little while they'll be right back up there," he said during the interview with radio host Armstrong Williams, who the Washington Post reports is a longtime friend of the secretary.

"And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, they'll work their way right back down to the bottom," Carson said.

At least based on the available clips, Carson did not mention pervasive wage stagnation, dismal job opportunities, or the lack of affordable healthcare and quality education opportunities as other possible sources of inter-generational poverty. When it comes to public policy impacts on poverty, the Trump budget released this week would slash the HUD budget by $6 billion and take a chainsaw to other safety-net programs like food assistance, early education programs, and Medicaid.

Many reacting to Carson's latest comments were not impressed:

It's not the first time Carson has made controversial statements about the poor.

Earlier this month, Carson took heat for suggesting that public housing for low-income families and homeless shelters should not be too "comfortable"—suggesting that poor people and those otherwise vulnerable would somehow take advantage if that was the case. In March, he likened aspiring immigrants to those "who came here in the bottom of slave ships."

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