Paul Ryan: 'Inarticulate' about comments on inner cities

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan said comments he made about men in inner cities not “learning the value and culture of work” were “inarticulate” and not about race.

Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, issued a statement Thursday about his remarks, which came during an interview with Bill Bennett on the former Education secretary’s radio show.

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

The Wisconsin Republican recently issued a report criticizing the federal government’s anti-poverty policies. He is recommending a sweeping overhaul of programs such as Head Start and Medicaid.

During his interview with Bennett, Ryan said: “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. There is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, had criticized Ryan’s remarks and charged the Wisconsin congressman with a “thinly veiled racial attack.”

“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,’ ” she said in her statement Wednesday.

Paul called Lee, who is a member of the Budget Committee, to explain his views.

In his statement Thursday, Paul said he was trying to make a “broader point” that the federal government and families have to rethink the approach to fighting poverty.

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