When Ben Carson tries to parse his "Poverty is a mindset" statements, Emanuel Cleaver drops a house on him -- the dilapidated house Cleaver lived in with his family growing up.
Rep Cleaver Drops A 'House' On Ben Carson's 'Poverty Is A Mindset' Nonsense
The two-room shack in Waxahachie, Texas, where Rep. Emanuel Cleaver lived with his parents and three sisters for seven years, until they moved to public housing. Credit: Emmanuel Cleaver
October 12, 2017

Representative Emmanuel Cleaver doesn't tell his father when he's going to be on C-Span.

He doesn't want his dad to know the terrible slander people in Congress commit against people who live in public housing.

Cleaver's family, two parents and four children, lived in the dilapidated two-room window-less shack for seven years until they found public housing. His dad worked three jobs to eventually buy the home where he lives now.

Cleaver knows a lot of families just like his. Hard-working, but needing help with housing temporarily.

And then Ben Carson decides his testimony before Cleaver's committee will include this:

“Sometimes I get a little bit tired of people ascribing to me things that people have said that I believe,” Carson complained. “When I say that poverty is largely a state of mind, what I’m saying is that the way that people approach things has a lot to do with what happens to them.”

“If your mindset is one that, ‘I’m a victim and that everybody else is in control of my life and I just need to sit here and wait for something,’ you’re going to approach my theory differently than somebody who says, ‘I am going to take this issue into my own hands,'” the HUD secretary opined.

Carson noted that his mother married a bigamist at the age of 13 and worked three jobs, “but the one thing about my mother, she was never a victim.”

Representative Cleaver takes housing very seriously, and very personally. Transcript via CSpan.

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER: I don't want to be melodramatic, but when I was elected I said I don't want to be Speaker, Assistant Speaker, I don't want to be the person in charge of trash, whatever. All I wanted was to be on the Subcommittee on Housing, the only thing -- that was my biggest aspiration coming through Congress.

And it was because of my background and what I had seen and what has hurt me personally and many other people over the years which is when people make disparaging comments about people living in public housing. You and I grew up very similar so you know that's not something that can give you great joy.

My father living in his home today, my goal is to never let him know ahead of time that he can watch us on C-Span, because I don't want him having done all the work he did to get four kids out, to hear some of the things that people unintentionally say. Because this is the house I lived in for seven years. Six people, my mother, my father, and my three sisters. Seven years. My father worked three jobs like a lot of the other people in our community, three jobs. Willie Taylor, Tommy Nelson, Katie Boston, Percy Cleveland, Leroy Kleiner, classmates of mine, their parents were doing the same thing.

I never hear people today say, "I can hardly wait to get my own public housing unit."

This is a serious thing to me, my family and a lot of other people. My goal is to do something before I leave here more than I've done and hopefully can inspire others to want to do something, to do some major overhauls of some of our policies. We were able to do 3700 together. I want to ask you a question about that. But I want it to be known that helping one family will not change the world, but it will change the world for that one family. And people want help and they need it from time to time.

If you look at [Chapter] 17 in Genesis -- Genesis, when Abraham left going to the land of promise, he stopped at a place that many theologians call the halfway house.

Public housing is this.

A lot of people stay there until they can get someplace else. My father -- my father sent my mother to college when I was almost in the seventh grade. [Breaks down.] I yield back the balance of my time.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.