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Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is currently second in the GOP polls behind Donald Trump. Carson follows a common trend in 2016 GOP presidential race — popularity as a political outsider. His economic plans focus on minimizing government intrusion in the market, cutting every federal agency by 10 percent and applying some governmental regulations in order to avoid market crashes like ones in 1929 and 2008. The economy-centered GOP debate at Colorado’s Coors Events Center will give Carson and other candidates crucial time to explain and compare their economic policies in greater detail.
Carson’s Religious Tax Plan
Carson’s tax plan is quite different from other candidates because of its foundation in religion. Carson believes in a biblical tithe tax system, which is based on the principle of a universal flat taxation for citizens, where 10 percent of income is paid in taxes.
“What we need to do is come up with something simple. And when I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the universe, God, and he’s given us a system. It’s called a tithe,” Carson said in his book One Nation. With the practice of this flat tax rate, Carson believes the country could eliminate the IRS completely. He believes the IRS wouldn’t be necessary after he would “eliminate corporate loopholes and also eliminate policies sheltering the poor from having to pay taxes,” he told PBS News Hour. Carson’s tax plan stands on shaky ground, however, as a flat tax rate would need to be somewhere above 20 percent to keep the government running as it is. Otherwise, large budget cuts would be necessary.
Carson is also firmly against taxation as a way to redistribute wealth, calling the practice unconstitutional. “The Constitution is quite clear that the government has the right to tax in order to support its programs, but there is nothing in the Constitution to support the redistribution of wealth…As a society we need to be mature enough to recognize that the wealthy in this nation provide many opportunities for those who are not rich by creating jobs and paying taxes,” Carson said in his book America the Beautiful.
Balanced Budget Amendment
Carson’s economic agenda also calls for a “Balanced Budget Amendment.” Carson’s amendment would require the federal government to balance the budget every year, barring the government from borrowing any money. His website offers few details on how this would work logistically, though. The Washington Post reports that the inclusion of the Balanced Budget Amendment along with his flat tax plan would carry extreme (72 percent) cuts to federal spending — a move which could wipe out Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid food stamps and the entire military in one fell swoop.
Social Security and Glass-Steagall Act
Carson is pushing to raise the age of eligibility for Social Security benefits (or in plain terms, the retirement age) on Americans currently under the age of 55 to ease strain on the program, because people are living longer. Carson is also adamant on reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, which was enacted after the Great Depression to prohibit commercial banks from investment banking and other acts for increasing their profits. President Clinton signed law that effectively neutralized Glass-Steagall in the 1990s. Carson sees the abolishment of Glass-Steagall as an important factor in the 2008 market crash. It’s an area of policy where Carson makes strange bedfellows with ultra-progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren. This would be seen as a positive policy by voters, due to the public disapproval of greedy banking policies which had a large effect on the 2008 market crash.
Carson has been criticized for the lack of detail in his proposed economic policies, so this upcoming debate is critical for establishing his economic policies for voters.