The shamelessness of the Trump administration extends way beyond the president himself.
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With a cabinet whose chief qualities range from corruption to incompetence — or an unholy blend of the two — many in the Trump orbit apparently feel no obligation to respond seriously to lawful congressional oversight of their departments’ activities.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson demonstrated his own lack of respect for Congress today after a disastrous appearance in front of the House Financial Services Committee.
Carson, whose befuddled countenance as the leader of HUD mocks his accreditation as a brain surgeon, sent a tweet in the wake of his testimony before the committee that laughed off his epic failure in answering basic questions about his department’s activities during his testimony.
The HUD Secretary made a fool of himself and proved that he leaned toward the incompetent end of the Trump cabinet spectrum with his absurdist responses to freshman Congresswoman Katie Porter’s (D-CA) inquiries regarding why homes owned by the Housing and Urban Development Department — acquired by the agency after their original owners defaulted on Federal Housing Administration-issued mortgages and referred to as real estate owned homes (REO)— had higher foreclosure rates than homes with conventional mortgages.
Representative Porter’s exchange with Carson became a viral video after the cabinet secretary responded to the congresswoman’s question asking him to explain the disparity in REO rates and whether he even knew what an REO was.
“An Oreo?” Carson questioningly answered.
“No, not an Oreo. An R-E-O. R-E-O,” Porter impatiently answered, setting off a light bulb in Carson’s brain.
“Real estate?” the HUD Secretary tried again as his mind tried to grasp the concept of the question.
“Real estate owned – that’s what happens when a property goes into foreclosure, we call it an REO, and FHA loans have much higher REOs, that is, they go into foreclosure rather than into loss mitigation or to non-foreclosure alternatives like short sales, than comparable loans” at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Porter explained, as if teaching an introductory class in the very subject in which Carson would presumably need to be fluent in order to perform his duties properly.
“So I’d like to know why we’re having more foreclosures that end in people losing their homes, with stains to their credit and disruption to their communities and their neighborhoods at FHA than we are at” Fannie and Freddie, the two dominant mortgage financing companies, she continued.
Representative Porter’s exchange with Carson went viral when the congresswoman posted a video of the stupefying testimony on Twitter to the incredulity of those who watched the brazen display of ignorance that was likened to that of a supposed dairy farmer being unable to recognize a cow.
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) May 21, 2019
After his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee was complete, Secretary Carson took to Twitter himself to make light of his gaffe as if it was something to merely shrug off rather than a signal that he is deeply unqualified for the position to which he was confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate anxious to approve any random person floated their way by President Trump, no matter how oblivious to the responsibilities of their jobs.
— Ben Carson (@SecretaryCarson) May 21, 2019
Pretending he was merely hungry for a mid-morning snack won’t save Secretary Carson’s already dubious reputation or restore the stature of brain surgeons as paragons of intelligence, unfortunately.
Given the prominent product placement included in Carson’s tweet and the pervasive corruption within the Trump administration, Congress should consider an investigation of whether Carson received any remuneration from Nabisco for promoting its wares.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.