After being criticized as racially insensitive for his comments on unemployment in “inner cities,” House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., will meet with the Congressional Black Caucus next week to discuss the issue of poverty, an aide for the CBC says.
“Congressman Ryan is a nice guy, and as such you know he has tried to frame the comments that he made about inner city folk as just sort of an inarticulate way of communicating,” CBC member Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., said during a conference call with reporters today. “We want to challenge his assumptions about that and really raise with him a couple of very specific proposals.”
“We are happy that representative Ryan wants to engage in this conversation, and we’re not going to let him get away with sort of a sleight of hand on this,” she said. “We know how to crunch numbers as well.” In March, Ryan said during an appearance on ‘Bill Bennett’s Morning in America’ radio show that there is 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 to value the culture of work.”
The comments were met condemnation from the CBC, with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., calling them “a thinly veiled racial attack (that) cannot be tolerated.” Ryan later spoke to Lee by phone and admitted that he had been “inarticulate” during the interview.
“There was nothing whatsoever about race in my comments at all, it had nothing to do with race,” Ryan later told constituents at a town hall in Racine when confronted about the comments. “Sometimes when you’re on the radio you try to take a bunch of ideas and collapse it into a couple sentences and you oversimplify, and it can be misinterpreted, that’s what’s happened here.”
The meeting between Ryan and the CBC will come on the same day as a newly announced Budget Committee Hearing focusing on the “War on Poverty” and a report Ryan released earlier this year assessing social welfare programs in the United States.