U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson had milk’s favorite cookie on the brain Tuesday when he mistook as basic real estate term for an Oreo sandwich snack.
The mix-up occurred during a House Financial Services Committee hearing as Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) was discussing “REOs,” or real estate-owned properties seized by lenders following a foreclosure.
Porter was attempting to ask Carson, who heads the Department of Housing and Urban Development, about disparities in REO rates and pointed out that Federal Housing Administration loans have far more properties that end up in foreclosure compared to loans from Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.
“I would also like to ask you to get back to me, if you don’t mind, to explain the disparity in REO rates,” Porter began. “Do you know what an REO is?”
“An Oreo?” Carson replied.
“No, not an Oreo. An R-E-O,” the congresswoman shot back before asking Carson to complete the acronym.
“Real estate?” Carson said.
“What’s the O stand for?” Porter pressed.
“E … organization,” he replied.
The cringe-worthy exchange spurred a torrent of reactions from social media critics who ridiculed Carson, 67, for not knowing basic housing terminology. The faux pas even seemed to shock Porter, who posted a clip of their exchange on Twitter.
“I asked @SecretaryCarson about REOs – a basic term related to foreclosure – at a hearing today,” she wrote. “He thought I was referring to a chocolate sandwich cookie. No, really.”
The dragging only got worse from there.
“You would think that after being appointed to a post for which he had zero qualifications, he would’ve spent the last 2 years learning and getting up to speed,” on Twitter user wrote. “The fact that he hasn’t, along with the sleepy, unserious attitude when questioned, shows his breathtaking arrogance.”
“Mother of God, how is he in Housing and he doesn’t know what an REO is?” another chimed in.
“Ben Carson is that uncle who you really loved as a kid because he was inspiring and successful but then you grew up and realized he was a bigot and not actually very smart,” another wrote.
The hashtag #BenCarsonResign also topped the list of trending topics on social media Wednesday.
Carson, a former Republican presidential candidate and celebrated brain surgeon, found himself in hot water last year when he dropped $31,561 on a dining set amid significant cuts to HUD’s budget. Similar backlash ensued when the politician suggested low-income Americans could “think” themselves out of poverty.
Rolling with the punches, Carson tweeted a photo of himself after Tuesday’s hearing with a pack of “double-stuff” Oreos for Porter, along with a hand-written note.
“OH, REO! Thanks, @RepKatiePorter,” he wrote. Enjoying a few post-hearing snacks. Sending some your way!”
Watch more in the video below.
I asked @SecretaryCarson about REOs – a basic term related to foreclosure – at a hearing today. He thought I was referring to a chocolate sandwich cookie. No, really. pic.twitter.com/cYekJAkRag
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) May 21, 2019