In his first national interview since being confirmed secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Dr. Ben Carson said he anticipated President Trump’s budget cuts and will find ways to ensure people receive the assistance they need.
“We have to think seriously about the future of our country, about our children and our grandchildren. We must also recognize that we have a government that is compassionate for all of the people and that we will be carefully examining every program and we will find ways to make sure that vital programs are taken care of, that people who are truly in need are taken care of. That will never be an issue with this administration,” Carson told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto.
The Trump administration plans to cut more than $6 billion or 13% in HUD funding. However, Carson said the White House considers housing the infrastructure of the country, and he will continue to evaluate the department’s need for additional financing.
“We are working to identify the areas where we may need more funding and we will find ways to obtain that both through this administration and through the private sector,” he said.
Trump’s proposal to “do more with less” in his first federal budget comes on the heels of cutting domestic programs and foreign aid, while spiking defense spending.
“There may have been some reshuffling of priorities. I don't think anybody is saying that the domestic spending isn't important. But I think at a time when the world is getting extraordinarily dangerous, at a time when half of our planes are not capable of flying and so many other severe issues as far as our defense is concerned. We do have to pay some attention to it,” Carson said.
The retired neurosurgeon weighed in on the fallout from cuts to Meals on Wheels America and entitlement programs.
“The CDBG (Community Development Block Grant Program) is not the primary funder of Meals on Wheels. Much more of that comes from HHS and programs of that nature. You look at New York City—Meals on Wheels there is not even funded through our department at all. It's through public private-partnerships. So I think maybe the emphasis is in the wrong place there,” he said.
Carson said the administration is off to a “fabulous start” and that HUD will continue its harmonious relationship with the White House.
“There's a sense of mission here that we're going to really get something accomplished here. This is not about politics. This is about fulfilling the promises that were made to the people and honoring the pledges we made to them,” he said.