Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said during a Sept. 22 rally at Cedarville University that he is a “vociferous” opponent of the Affordable Care Act, a comment that comes as no surprise to many conservatives. Carson gained popularity as a conservative leader after a speech he gave at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013, which Carson said wasn’t received well by the White House.
Carson said he opposes the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, because it does not provide high-quality healthcare but gives people “garbage.” But his complaint, he said, is not thoughtless.
“I never like to complain about anything without providing a solution,” he said.
Carson said his solution is to give everyone the ability to have a health savings account, beginning at any age and lasting until death. The savings accounts Carson advocated are able to be shifted between family members to pay for whoever has the need and are able to be passed onto a family member at the time of death.
“You have control of it. There’s not 600 bureaucrats in there telling what you can and cannot do,” Carson said. “It makes every family essentially their own insurance company with no middle man, which stretches your dollar tremendously.”
Carson said this “cash value insurance” will cover the cost of medical expenses for the average person. And for those relying on Medicaid, he said the annual Medicaid budget of $400 to $500 billion can be allocated in a more appropriate way, as the current system costs $5,000 for each of the 80 million people in the program.
The retired neurosurgeon addressed a healthcare issue on the November 2015 ballot in Ohio – the legalization of marijuana – during a press conference before the Sept. 22 rally.
“I have no problem whatsoever with medical marijuana,” Carson said. “In fact, a lot of the medicines that we utilize very effectively – if we just put those out there – would be toxic and would cause lots of problems. Many studies have demonstrated that exposing the immature brain to marijuana can have deleterious effects in terms of IQ and others. These studies are abundant, they’re well known. Why would we, as intelligent people, want to subject our population to things that can affect them mentally?”
Citing his medical experience, Carson also spoke about the issue of abortion in response to a question asked by Thomas White, president of Cedarville University, at the conclusion of the rally. Carson said the presence and acceptance of abortion signifies the depravity of America.
“My entire professional career was spent trying to save the lives of babies and young children, and sometimes operating all night long and even operating on babies while they were still in the mother’s womb,” he said. “I’ve been privileged to meet some of those little babies now that they’ve grown up and become productive citizens, and I tell you, there is no one who will ever convince me that they weren’t worth saving.”
Carson also shared his position on other controversial issues, such as same-sex marriage and religious freedom:
“I very strongly believe that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Carson said. “I believe that the reason that there are those who are so insistent that we change the definition of marriage is because, if you can change the definition of marriage and you can obliterate sections of the Bible in one area, then you can obliterate it in any other area, too. And it is an attempt to remove God from the central focus of our lives.”
“We do have a system that stands for freedom of religion. People should be able to believe as they want. They should be able to live as they want,” Carson said. “I wouldn’t try to legislate how people live. Any two adults can do anything they want as far as I’m concerned. I’m not going to stop them as long as it’s not infringing on somebody else’s rights.”
A change of course
As for the direction he hopes to take the country if elected president, Carson said – with a hint of sarcasm and a smirk – it will be contrary to the direction the country has drifted across the past seven years.
“If I were in charge of this nation and I was attempting to destroy it, let me tell you what I would do. I would drive wedges between the people – I would have a war on women and race wars and income wars and religious wars and age wars. Every opportunity that I had, I would be driving wedges between the people. And then I would drive the debt to unsustainable levels, I would be inviting people here from other countries and giving them all kinds of benefits. I would be giving people free telephones and I would be telling people, ‘You know, you need to get on food stamps.’ I would do everything I could to rapidly destabilize. I would be telling people free college, free university tuition, and then I would weaken our military. I would have the morale in our military so low. I would have the smallest, weakest Navy since 1917 and the smallest, weakest Air Force since 1940. And I would have a sequester program going on so that the majors and the lieutenant colonels and captains were getting letters every month, saying, ‘Don’t bother to reenlist.’ And that’s what I would do if I were trying to destroy this nation,” Carson said. “Any relationship or similarity to what’s going on is purely coincidental.”
The presidential hopeful said neither Democrats nor Republicans can return the nation to its founding principles. The people, by voting and encouraging others to vote, will be America’s saving grace, Carson said.
“What’s going to save us is ourselves, we the people,” he said. “We have to be the ones who are informed. We have to be the ones who are responsible.”
As for when, or if, Carson will drop out of the race – joining previous GOP candidates Scott Walker and Rick Perry – Carson said logic and the Lord will decide that. He said he entered the presidential race due to a prompting from God and won’t back out until the odds are stacked against him.
“I guess my litmus test would be logic,” Carson said. “Obviously, if you don’t have money and you don’t have support, what the heck are you doing there?”
Other highlights from the Sept. 22 rally include a reunion between a Cedarville University staff member and the presidential hopeful. When senior admissions counselor Adam Brandt was five years old, Carson performed brain surgery on him to remove a tumor. The two had met briefly one year after the surgery for a check-up, Brandt said, but had not seen each other in just shy of 20 years. Brandt said he credits Carson with saving his life and the Sept. 22 reunion between doctor and patient was a bit out-of-the-blue.
“It was so weird in a sense because I never expected that to happen later in life,” Brandt said. “The first thing I did was say, ‘Hi Ben,’ and then I gave him a hug … It was like this giant chapter of my life was happening and re-happening, because the last time (we met) was when I was five.”
Anna Dembowski is a senior journalism major and editor-in-chief for Cedars. She is learning to love coffee, spontaneity and Twitter. Follow her at @annabbowskers.