Home

Paul Ryan Says His 'Inner City' Comments Were 'Inarticulate'

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan responded Thursday to criticism that he engaged in racial rhetoric when talking about his philosophy on poverty, saying that he was "inarticulate" in the point he was trying to make.  

"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 Wisconsin Republican said in a statement.  

The GOP's 2014 vice presidential candidate has been facing criticism for comments he made Wednesday on Bill Bennett's radio program "Morning in America," where he discussed his recent report on the failures of the war on poverty.

“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 to value the culture of work, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” Ryan said.

In a statement following the interview, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., called Ryan's comments a "thinly veiled racial attack" that "cannot be tolerated."  

Ryan later told the Crew of 42 website that his comments "had nothing whatsoever to do with race."  

Here's Ryan's full statement:

“After reading the transcript of yesterday morning’s interview, it is clear that I was inarticulate about the point I was trying to make. 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. 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.”