A member of the Congressional Black Caucus says the group is looking forward not just to challenging recent comments by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday, but his overall economic and political philosophy.
The House Budget Committee chairman agreed to sit down with the CBC after comments he made last month on inner-city 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 the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” Ryan said on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America when talking about welfare-to-work requirements.
The CBC sent Ryan a letter calling the original comments “highly offensive.” Ryan said his comments had “nothing to do whatsoever with race.”
“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. “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 CBC invited Ryan to come to one of their weekly meetings to talk about poverty.
That will happen Wednesday after Ryan’s committee holds a hearing titled “A Progress Report on the War on Poverty: Lessons from the Frontlines.”
“I hope that he just comes in and apologizes and just confesses ignorance. Because if he comes in and attempts to say that there — this has nothing to do with race, this was all about poverty, I think he’s really just going to make the situation worse,” Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) told MSNBC.
“But you know, the Black Caucus typically has speakers come in every Wednesday. And sometimes they are coming in because the Caucus has differences with them. But the chairwoman always handles things in a very professional manner. And in addition to his comments, people are going to want to talk with him about his overall philosophy, especially in regards to the budget and his view of poverty. So I think he has a lot to talk about, a lot of explaining to do,” Bass continued.
Ryan will also be asked about quoting Charles Murray, who co-authored The Bell Curve that, in part, studied race and intelligence.
“I think this is the problem because, you know, Paul is really viewed as the intellectual hero of his caucus when it comes to all matters related to the budget and poverty and those issue. So you can’t be on one hand an intellectual and then quote somebody like Murray and say you really didn’t know or you really didn’t what their viewpoints were,” Bass said.
“I mean, Murray is the equivalent of the fake scientist that existed long ago that tried to come up with scientific justifications for the enslavement of people and for the inferiority of African- Americans. And that’s exactly what part of Murray’s quote/unquote ‘research’ attempts to document is the inferiority. So, you can’t come in and say, you know, on the one hand, you’re brilliant. On the other hand, you’re quoting something you really didn’t know where they were coming from. That is a bit of a contradiction.”