Ben Carson struggles to explain debt limit stance – CNN

Washington (CNN)Ben Carson struggled in an interview to explain whether he would support increasing the limit of debt that the country can incur, raising fresh questions about his understanding of the policy questions of the day.

In a tense back and forth on NPR’s Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal, the Republican presidential candidate did not directly answer whether he’d support raising the caps, known as the debt ceiling, in order to prevent a default on some obligations.

    The Treasury Department has said the government will hit the limit in November, and some Republicans in the past have advocated for using the debt negotiations as leverage to extract spending cuts from Democrats.

    Asked several times if the ceiling should be raised, Carson said he would “not sign an increased budget.”

    “I would provide the kind of leadership that says, ‘Get on the stick guys, and stop messing around, and cut where you need to cut, because we’re not raising any spending limits, period,'” said Carson, who added he supports 3% to 4% across the board cuts to the federal budget.

    “I’m gonna try one more time, sir,” asked Ryssdal. “This is debt that’s already obligated. Would you not favor increasing the debt limit to pay the debts already incurred?”

    “What I’m saying is what we have to do is restructure the way that we create debt,” Carson replied. “I mean if we continue along this, where does it stop? It never stops.”

    Carson, who was once one of the country’s leading neurosurgeons, has rocketed to the top of the polls with his appeal as a political outsider. But he has also never served in government or run for office before, and he has made a series of eyebrow-raising statements.

    In March, he said homosexuality is a choice because people “go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay,” during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day.”

    More recently, Carson said he would not support a Muslim running for president of the United States.

    “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that,” the retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate said September 20 on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

    He later tried to clarify that he would support a Muslim, if they rejected the tenets of Sharia law.

    A campaign spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment for clarification on Carson’s remarks regarding the debt limit.

    Carson also told Marketplace that the rate of his flat tax would be “closer to 15%” than 10%. He pledged to nevertheless balance the budget with his spending cuts.

    “You also have to recognize that all the spending that we’re doing, in my opinion, is not legitimate spending,” he said. “The assumption of so many people is that every penny that the government spends is critical.”


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