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US housing secretary confuses industry term with… cookie

Ben Carson, Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, revealed that after 2 years on the job he still doesn’t know his way around the housing industry, confusing a common real estate term with a snack food.

Carson drew a blank when Rep. Katie Porter (D-California) asked him to explain the disparity in “REOs” between two types of loans during a congressional hearing. “Do you know what an REO is?” she asked.

An Oreo?” Carson asked, confused. “Real estate…organization?” he guessed again when she explained it was an acronym. REO is a common real-estate term meaning “real estate owned,” referring to a property that has been foreclosed upon by a bank – a fact Carson might be expected to know by now, given that he’s led the Department of Housing and Urban Development for two years.

Even after Porter explained the term, Carson didn’t have an answer for her question, promising to “work with the people who do that.” She peppered him with a few more questions before giving up, none of which he seemed able to answer, instead complaining the congresswoman was getting “way down in the weeds.”

Carson’s “stammering would be funny if it weren’t so scary,” Porter said in a later statement to Huffington Post after the hearing. “Secretary Carson’s ignorance of the agency he oversees is a slap in the face to the American public,” she added.

Carson took the humiliation in stride, however, sending Porter a package of Oreo cookies after the video of his gaffe went viral.

Twitter didn’t think it was so cute.

Though some tried to shame Porter for expecting Carson to know things.


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Others saw his cluelessness as part of a pattern.

Carson was a renowned neurosurgeon before he entered politics, first with a failed presidential run of his own and later with an appointment in Trump’s cabinet. He had no previous real estate experience, and seems not to have developed a taste for the industry, having announced in March that he will resign if Trump wins a second term in 2020.

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