Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Thursday that he wasn’t articulating his point well when he linked poverty to a “culture” of inner city men not “even thinking about working.”
Speaking Wednesday on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” radio show, Ryan said 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 the value and the culture of work.”
“After reading the transcript of yesterday morning’s interview, it is clear that I was inarticulate about the point I was trying to make,” he said in a statement.
He had said later Wednesday that his comments had “nothing to do” with race, after a Democratic colleague on the Budget Committee blasted those remarks as a “thinly veiled racial attack.” Ryan had referenced the work of Charles Murray, a conservative social scientist who maintains that the black community is at a disadvantage due to genetic inferiority, in his comments to Bennett.
Read Ryan’s full statement below:
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.
This post has been updated.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.