As 2016 presidential hopefuls reach out to the country’s vast middle class to win their votes and the White House, Republican candidate Ben Carson is making a personal effort to connect with America’s poor and lower-income families.
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon raised in poverty, on Sunday defended his flat-tax proposal against criticism that it would overburden the poor, saying that notion is “condescending.”
“I grew up very poor,” he told “Fox News Sunday.” “Poor people have pride.”
He also disagreed with the argument that his plan would result in lower-income families paying a tax of 15 to 20 percent, saying the flat-tax is just part of an overall plan that includes putting trillions in federal coffers by closing tax loopholes.
Carson also turned questions about his lack of political experience into a message for Americans who face long odds for success.
“My life has been so full of people telling me what I couldn’t do that I would be more concerned if people told me I could do it,” said Carson, citing his rise through the military’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program and his leadership of surgical teams and a national scholarship program.
“There’s real life experience, and there’s politics,” said Carson, a first-time candidate, in an apparent reference to career politicians. “There are some good people in the political arena, but I’m not sure that they actually, in many cases, understand real life.”
Carson, an African-American who became a conservative star in part by being critical of President Obama, also defended earlier comments that suggested ObamaCare was like slavery, saying the president’s signature health care law makes Americans “subservient to the government” and “is about control.”