Paul Ryan: Suburbanites Need to Volunteer in Blighted Inner Cities Where There's a Culture of Fatherlessness and Unemployment
Democrats: That's Racist!
1:39 PM, Mar 13, 2014 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
House budget committee chairman Paul Ryan has come under fire from Democrats over comments he made Wednesday while discussing the problems of fatherlessness, poverty, and unemployment in America's inner cities. During an appearance on Bill Bennett's radio program, Ryan said that the government had created a "poverty trap" by creating "incentives not to work and to stay where you are, that’s not what we want in society."
Ryan later added that "we have got this 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 so there’s a cultural problem that has to be dealt with."
"Everyone has got to get involved," Ryan continued. "So this is what we talk about when we talk about civil society, if you’re driving from the suburbs to the sports arena downtown by these blighted neighborhoods, you can’t just say: I’m paying my taxes and government is going to fix that. You need to get involved. You need to get involved yourself – whether through a good mentor program or some religious charity, whatever it is to make a difference. And that’s how we help resuscitate our culture."
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a Democrat from California, denounced Ryan's comments as "a thinly-veiled racial attack" that "cannot be tolerated."
In a statement released Thursday, Ryan said that his remarks were "inarticulate."
"After reading the transcript of yesterday morning’s interview, it is clear that I was inarticulate about the point I was trying to make," Ryan said. "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 into our communities. The predictable result has been multi-generational poverty and little opportunity. I also believe the government’s response has inadvertently created a poverty trap that builds barriers to work. A stable, good-paying job is the best bridge out of poverty."
"The broader point I was trying to make is that we cannot settle for this status quo and that government and families have to do more and rethink our approach to fighting poverty," Ryan continued. "I have witnessed amazing people fighting against great odds with impressive success in poor communities. We can learn so much from them, and that is where this conversation should begin."
Here's a transcript of Ryan's interview with Bill Bennett: