Republican Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, whose remarks about inner-city poverty were described by another member of Congress as a “thinly veiled racial attack,” has accepted the invitation of the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss poverty.
CBC Chairwoman Marcia Fudge and Rep. Gwen Moore sent a letter to Ryan, saying they were “deeply troubled” and offended by his remarks on Bill Bennett’s influential Morning in America radio show Wednesday about a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working, and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.”
Ryan has since said that he was “inarticulate” in making those comments. “I was not implicating the culture of one community — but of society as a whole. We have allowed our society to isolate or quarantine the poor rather than integrate people in our communities.”
Fudge and Moore pushed back against the idea that isolation is the main culprit behind poverty, saying that the problem is instead a lack of resources. They invited Ryan to one of the CBC’s weekly meetings “to discuss our perspectives on poverty in search of finding constructive common ground.”
A spokesman said Ryan appreciated the invitation. “He has said he would welcome a productive conversation on how to better fight poverty, and he looks forward to meeting with the CBC in the near future,” the spokesman said.
Ryan has been noticeably focused on poverty lately. He embarked on a listening tour of struggling neighborhoods in recent months and released a report last week looking back on the War on Poverty. The chairman also plans to propose changes, through a new budget, to federal programs intended to help the poor.