What qualifies someone to lead a federal agency and advise the president as part of his or her cabinet?
This week, President-elect Donald Trump announced he’ll appoint former political rival Ben Carson as secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Carson has no professional experience with housing. HUD is a major bureaucracy with a budget of almost $50 billion and more than 8,000 employees.
Media outlets including the New York Times have reported that Carson lived in public housing as a child. But the New York Times has since corrected its story, saying he never lived in government housing.
Carson himself points to his low-income upbringing in Detroit as a qualification for the job. But how does that prepare him for the important work that HUD does, and the bureaucratic issues that already exist in the department?
“Carson is not someone that comes to this job… with strong ideas that he wants to put in place,” says Rebecca Sinderbrand, a political editor at the Washington Post. “Carson is someone, like Donald Trump, who’s a symbol. He is in this job to send a message.”
Detroit Today Host Stephen Henderson is also joined by Wayne State University Professor of Urban Studies and Planning Robin Boyle.
“There’s a long history of people being appointed to this really important cabinet position who don’t come particularly well-prepared,” says Boyle. “It has been seen as a sideshow to some extent - sadly, because it’s so important in our society.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.