Ben Carson talks debt and religion during Ames town hall

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at his “Trust in God” townhall in Ames on Sunday night. Carson discussed Islamic terrorism, securing the border, and national debt.

Shannon Mccarty

Just one week until the Iowa Caucus, presidential candidates are swarming Iowa to discuss where they stand on the issues.

Retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson focused on the national debt and the sanctity of religion while speaking to Ames residents this past weekend at the City Church of Ames.

“The current generation is the first one in the history of America not expected to do better than their parents,” Carson said.

Carson said his fear of the next generation being at financial risk has been what has motivated him throughout his presidential campaign.

“[My mother] taught us the whole concept of thrift and financial responsibility,” Carson said. “Something that was not apparently taught to many of our leaders in Washington.”

Carson spoke about the national debt at length, and the importance of cutting it down. The current national debt is $18.9 trillion according to the U.S. debt clock website.

“We’re still accumulating debt; that’s the real problem,” Carson said.

Carson said the most concerning part of the national debt is the fiscal gap which he explains as “the unfunded liabilities that our government owns.”

Those liabilities include government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and social security.

Carson said there should be more money coming back to the government from more than just taxes because the United States owns “over $150 trillion of assets”.

“We don’t manage [the assets] correctly,” Carson said. “Our government doesn’t know how to run things like a business.”

Carson said he does have some experience in business from being on Kellogg’s corporate board for 18 years and Costco’s for 16.

“Our government owns 900,000 buildings. 77,000 of them we don’t use,” Carson said.

According to an article from NPR from 2014 these empty buildings have been estimated to cost taxpayers $1.7 billion dollars, because the property is still being maintained.

With the fiscal gap, Carson said the real national debt is at about $200 trillion. Whether or not this is completely accurate has been disputed.

“And then somebody comes along talking about free college tuition for everybody,” Carson said, referring to Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders.

Carson said all these components destroy the potential of the future generation.

“We are now on the precipice of financial ruin,” Carson said.

Carson’s solution is a true flat tax without deductions, loopholes or tax shelters. The flat tax would be applied to income 150 percent above the poverty line, but those below would pay a minor tax annually.

“The concept of the portionality, I will readily admit, I got from the bible,” Carson said when discussing his tax plan.

Carson defended Christianity citing God’s name to be on money, in courtrooms, in the pledge of allegiance and the constitution.

“Unlike many other nations we feel our rights come from god, not our government,” Carson said.

According to Carson there are a large number of people who want to take away all the references to God out of society. He said that would be a “horrendous” mistake.

“If it’s in our founding document, it’s in our pledge, it’s in our courts, and it’s on our money, but we’re not supposed to talk about it,” Carson said. “What in the world is that? In medicine we call it schizophrenia.”

Carson referred to a quote from Joseph Stalin that states, “America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.”

“I think [Stalin] was dead on,” Carson said.