Ben Carson Says Reparations for African Americans 'Unworkable'

CBS News
December 23, 2019 - 9:55 am
Ben Carson

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One of the longest-serving members of President Trump's cabinet is revealing to CBS News the advice he gave the president ahead of his expected impeachment trial in the Senate.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson told correspondent Jericka Duncan that he spoke with Mr. Trump about not "giving up" and called the impeachment "very immature."

He also weighed in on some of the key testimony during the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment hearings.

Duncan asked, "Throughout the impeachment process, we saw and heard from career civil servants. You work with a lot of career civil servants here. Do you have any reason to doubt that the foreign service officers who testified in the impeachment proceedings were telling the truth?

"Well, I mean, they're people," Carson replied. "Do people have various reasons for doing things that are not, uh, fair? Of course they do. What we really need to be thinking about is the whole concept of fairness."

In the wide-ranging interview, Carson also explained why he has concerns about the idea of reparations for the descendants of slavery.

Duncan asked, "When you think about the conversations that have happened regarding reparations, do you think that's something worth considering when you look at the inequity with African American wealth versus [that of] white Americans?"

"What I would say about reparations is, you know, show me a mechanism that works," Carson replied. "You know, I did my DNA analysis. OK. I'm 77% sub-Saharan African, 20% European, 3% Asian. So how do you proportion that out to everybody?"

"If you can prove you're a descendant of a slave, though, do you think it's worth having a conversation?" Duncan asked.

"Yeah, but what percentage of money do you get? What percentage of reparation? No one is ever going to be able to work that out," Carson said. 

"But nobody considered what percentage of what black people looked like in the Civil Rights era," said Duncan. "They didn't say, 'Well, we're not going to discriminate against you because you might be partially this or partially that."'

"Proportionately, you're not going to be able to figure it out. And where do you stop it? It's unworkable. So, I would much rather concentrate on how do we provide the opportunities for people to get into a better economic situation now."

"And make it fair now?"

"Yes."