Ben Carson And The GOP’s Debt Delusion

Ben Carson, taking a break from acting as Donald Trump’s worst surrogate, has hit the media circuit this week to denounce the Treasury Department’s decision to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill while keeping President Andrew Jackson on the back.

Carson, however, didn’t appear to be upset that the Treasury Department didn’t pick his mother to appear on the currency, an idea he floated at a Republican presidential debate. (Carson wasn’t the only candidate who couldn’t name a woman outside of his immediate family to appear on a bill.)

In an interview yesterday with Fox News host Neil Cavuto, Carson expressed anger at the decision since “Andrew Jackson was the last president who actually balanced the federal budget.” (Actually, that was Bill Clinton). Carson said that “we can find another way to honor” Tubman, such as “a $2 bill.” Of course, the $2 bill already exists, and features Thomas Jefferson.

Carson returned to Fox News later that night to tell Megyn Kelly about his proposed currency compromise: “We can have a $200 bill, but, you know, Andrew Jackson was the last president who actually eliminated the national debt. That’s no small feat here … We also had the possibility of putting one person on the front of the bill and one on the back of the bill.”

Kelly interjected to note that his proposal reflects what the Treasury Department has already announced: Jackson is staying on the $20 bill but will appear on the back while Tubman is featured on the front.

Carson was outraged nonetheless.

The former GOP presidential candidate may be interested to learn that, as NPR reports, the U.S. entered a long-term economic depression following Jackson’s move to pay off the debt.

Jackson, NPR reports, “took advantage of a huge real-estate bubble” by selling off federal land and then directed much of the budget surplus to the states, whose banks began “printing massive amounts of money” and continued to exacerbate the massive real-estate bubble.

“It was a huge crash, and the beginning of the longest depression in American history,” historian John Steele Gordon told NPR. “It actually lasted six years before the economy began to grow again.”

Carson’s view shouldn’t be that surprising, since, during his presidential campaign, he didn’t know what the debt limit was and introduced a budget plan so nonsensical that one conservative writer said that it defied “the simplest of logic and mental arithmetic.”

But he isn’t alone on the GOP side, as Donald Trump has vowed to pay off the entire national debt in eight years. “Very easy,” he said.

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