GOP 2016 candidate Ben Carson appeared unable to give a straight answer when asked repeatedly about whether he would raise the debt ceiling during a Marketplace interview posted Thursday.
At one point, Carson said he would urge his administration to “cut where you need to cut” when asked if he would let the government default on its debt, suggesting he didn’t understand that the debt ceiling authorizes payments on debts the government has already incurred.
When Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal first asked Carson: “As you know, Treasury Secretary Lew has come out in the last couple of days and said, we’re going to run out of money, we’re going to run out of borrowing authority on the 5th of November. Should the Congress then, and the president, not raise the debt limit? Should we default on our debt?”
“Let me put it this way. If I were the president, I would not sign an increased budget, absolutely would not do it,” Carson responded. “They would have to find a place a cut.”
Ryssdal repeated variations of the question two more times, clarifying that he was asking about increasing the debt limit, not the budget: “But I want to make sure I understand you. You’d let the United States default rather than raise the debt limit?”
“No, I would provide leadership that says, get on the stick, guys, and stop messing around, and cut where you need to cut because we’re not raising any spending limits, period,” Carson said.
The third time Ryssdal posed the question, Carson responded, “What I am saying is we what we have to do is restructure the way that we create debt.”
The full interview is below. The debt ceiling portion comes in at the 3:40 mark.