Dems Accuse Ryan of 'Thinly Veiled Racial Attack' in Comments About Work Culture
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is taking heat from Democratic colleagues for saying that a culture of not working exists in the inner cities.
“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 on Wednesday when talking about welfare-to-work requirements.
"I'm so disappointed in chairman Ryan. And I'm saying this very, very seriously. It is my hope that he really doesn't mean what he said. It is my hope that he just doesn't know people in the inner city," Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said on MSNBC.
"You and I grew up in the central city," he said to Al Sharpton. "I grew up extremely poor in one point in my childhood. But I never heard anybody say this is fun and I am enjoying this. Let's try to see how we can get other people to join us. Now, most people who are in poverty are struggling every day to get out. And I think it is an insult for those people to hear what chairman Ryan said."
Cleaver also criticized Ryan for citing Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life.
"That is the part that is so hurtful to many of us and probably to many of your viewers. Charles Murray is a pseudo-scientist who has come up with all kinds of studies that are baseless and proven to be baseless. They essentially say that African-Americans are subhuman," the congressman continued, adding that Murray sees blacks as "genetically, less intelligent and less moral."
"And when Chairman Ryan, rather he is a smart man, in saying that I hope he understands that he is giving fodder, he is the feeding people out there who would love to lap that up and then use that to justify their attitude and continue to push people down who are trying to get up."
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) accused Ryan of "a thinly veiled racial attack" that "cannot be tolerated."
"Let’s be clear, when Mr. Ryan says 'inner city,' when he says, 'culture,' these are simply code words for what he really means: 'black.' As someone who sits on the Budget Committee with Mr. Ryan, I know that his assertions about the racial dynamics of poverty are not only statistically inaccurate, but deeply offensive," Lee said in a statement.
“Instead of demonizing 'culture,' and blaming black men for their poverty, Mr. Ryan should step up and produce some legitimate proposals on how to tackle poverty and racial discrimination in America. His uninformed policy proposals continue to increase poverty, not solve it. My colleague is demonstrating a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of the issues in urban and black communities.”