Paul Ryan says his comments on poverty were 'inarticulate'

Rep. Paul Ryan said Thursday he was "inarticulate" in his comments on poverty on Bill Bennett's radio show this week.

During a radio interview Wednesday, Ryan blamed 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 to value the culture of work" in discussing the roots of poverty.

But Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) accused the Republican of "offensive and racially charged" language in describing the poor.

"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 alleged in a statement.

After some reflection, Ryan said Thursday "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."

Rep. Lee's office did not have a response to Ryan's clarifying comments.

In marking the 50th anniversary on the War on Poverty, Ryan has been the spokesman for the GOP in publicizing the party platform on the issue.

"Despite trillions of dollars in spending, 47 million Americans still live in poverty today. And the reason is simple: Poverty isn't just a form of deprivation; it's a form of isolation," he wrote in a Wall Street Journal essay on the subject in January.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker penned the Democratic platform on the issue for The Journal.

"We must dispense with the false choice between pursuing fiscal responsibility and funding programs to help the poor. Instead, we should be focused on outcomes and substantive cost-benefit analyses," Booker wrote.

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