Paul Ryan: Inner City Poverty Remark Was ‘Inarticulate’

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.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Sincerely,
TPM Staff
Latest Livewire
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: