Ben Carson, US Housing Secretary, Confuses Basic Housing Term "REO" With "Oreo"
The exchange was a part of Carson's first hearing before Maxine Water's committee.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson testified before Maxine Water's committee on Tuesday to discuss a budget proposal cut that would affect HUD's budget and an HUD plan that would increase rent on people who live in subsidized housing.
During the hearing though, Carson not only seemed unfamiliar with basic housing terms being discussed but also failed to answer questions about the proposed budget cuts. While speaking with Rep. Katie Porter, Carson was asked if he knew what "real-estate owned" — commonly referred to by the acronym "REO" — meant.
\u201cI asked @SecretaryCarson about REOs - a basic term related to foreclosure - at a hearing today. He thought I was referring to a chocolate sandwich cookie. No, really.\u201d— Rep. Katie Porter (@Rep. Katie Porter) 1558459971
"Do you know what an REO is?" Porter asked.
"An Oreo?" Carson replied.
"No, not an Oreo, an R-E-O," Porter spelled out. From there, the exchange continued, with Carson figuring out the words assigned to the first two letters of the acronym.
"What does the O stand for?" Porter probed.
"Organization?" Carson answered, with Porter responding: "Owned. 'Real estate owned.' That's what happens when a property goes into foreclosure. We call it an REO."
Following the hearing, Carson tried to make light of the exchange, tweeting a photo of a pack of Oreos and a handwritten note to Porter.
\u201cOH, REO! Thanks, @RepKatiePorter. Enjoying a few post-hearing snacks. Sending some your way!\u201d— Archive: Ben Carson (@Archive: Ben Carson) 1558468017
"OH, REO! Thanks, @RepKatiePorter. Enjoying a few post-hearing snacks. Sending some your way!" he tweeted.
\u201cCLIP: Complete exchange between Rep. Pressley and Secretary Carson.\n\n@SecretaryCarson: "Reclaiming my time."\n\n@RepPressley: "You don't get to do that."\n\nCarson: "Oh."\n\n@RepMaxineWaters: "The time belongs to the gentle lady."\u201d— CSPAN (@CSPAN) 1558462579
Elsewhere in the hearing, Carson dodged questions from Rep. Ayanna Pressley about the proposed budget cuts to HUD.
"Yes or no — is stable and safe housing a social determinant of health?" Pressley asked.
"Sounds like you have not been here and heard most of my testimony," Carson said.
"Please just answer the question, reclaiming my time," Pressley replied. "Yes or no — is stable and safe housing a social determinant of health?"
"Ah, there is no question that housing is an important part of health," Carson said, still failing to directly answer the question. Carson also told Pressley that he was "reclaiming my time" during their exchange. Pressley responded by tellling him that, as a witness at the hearing, he doesn't "get to do that."
Waters has previously offered her thoughts on Carson before. Two years ago she spoke out against him while speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus’ annual conference in Washington, D.C.
"Look at Ben Carson. My God. My grandmother would call him an educated fool," Waters said. "Here’s a man who has a reputation of being a highly competent surgeon, but when he talks about poor people, he says they’re the cause of their poverty. He doesn’t understand why you didn’t do what he did and why you didn’t make it like he made it. And he doesn’t know the difference between slavery and immigration."