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Ryan says he was 'inarticulate' with comments on poverty

Representative Paul Ryan came under some heat for comments he made yesterday about a “tailspin of culture in our inner cities,” and today said he wasn’t trying to single out any one community and “it is clear that I was inarticulate.”

Representative Barbara Lee (D., Calif.) said his comments were a “thinly veiled racial attack,” the National Review reports.

Here’s Ryan’s full statement today:

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.

Here’s the full text of the comments he made Wednesday on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” radio show, when asked about the problem of fatherlessness in our country:

That’s the tailspin that we’re looking at in our communities. You know your buddies Charles Murray or Bob Putnam over at Harvard, those guys have written books on this which is 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 hard work so there’s a cultural problem that has to be dealt with. Everyone has got to get involved. So this is what we talk about when we talk about civil society, if you’re driving from the suburbs to the sports arena downtown by these blighted neighborhoods, you can’t just say: I’m paying my taxes and government is going to fix that. You need to get involved. You need to get involved yourself – whether through a good mentor program or some religious charity, whatever it is to make a difference. And that’s how we help resuscitate our culture.

Via National Review