Fox News calls him a “conservative sage.” But is Dr. Ben Carson — a retired neurosurgeon who gained Republican fans after speaking freely at last year’s National Prayer Breakfast — really the next great hope for 2016?
Judging by his early fundraising numbers, some people certainly think he is. As Reuters reports, one group is pushing hard for a Carson 2016 bid. The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee has raised $2.4 million over the last three months — more than similar groups supporting potential candidates like Hillary Clinton, Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Marco Rubio.
Carson first gained national prominence at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, where he compared the U.S. deficit to the “moral decay and fiscal irresponsibility” found in ancient Rome before its collapse, and said political correctness “puts a muzzle on people.” (He also spoke at the 1997 National Prayer Breakfast, alongside Bill Clinton.)
Since his prayer-breakfast speech, Carson has gone on to liken elements of the government to Nazi Germany and compare Obamacare unfavorably to the attack on Pearl Harbor and Jim Crow laws. Through his conservative fan base, he’s earned publicity in the form of speaking gigs at CPAC, as a Fox News contributor, and as a columnist for the conservative Washington Times.
But like the federal government in Carson’s critique, the group backing him seems to have a spending problem, too. From Reuters:
Though the Draft Ben Carson committee has raised $3.9 million since it was set up last year, it has spent money just as steadily. At the end of March, the committee had $228,000 in the bank and carried $515,000 in debt, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission.
The group trying to draft Carson is led by John Philip Sousa IV — yes, a descendant of that John Philip Sousa — who said he started the group so that, if Carson does decide to run, he’ll have the campaign infrastructure already in place.
Though a spokesman for Carson told Reuters that he is not interested in running for president, Carson has said he’d make an exception for divine intervention: “If the Lord grabbed me by the collar and made me do it, I would.”
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.