The Congressional Black Caucus has invited House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., to attend its weekly meeting when Congress returns from recess to explain what the group considers "highly offensive" remarks he made about inner-city men and their work ethic on a conservative talk radio show.
Appearing on Bill Bennett's nationally-syndicated "Morning in America" program, Ryan said there is 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 the value and the culture of work."
'Your comments were highly offensive,' CBC Chair Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, and Gwen Moore, D-Wisc., wrote in a letter to Ryan inviting him to the CBC meeting. 'A serious policy conversation on poverty should not begin with assumptions or stereotypes. Poverty in our nation is a critical problem that must be approached with diligence and the utmost respect for those who are trapped by poverty's grasp.'
In an email statement to reporters Thursday, Ryan said "After reading the transcript of yesterday's morning interview, it is clear that I was inarticulate about the point I was trying to make.'
He added: '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.'
'The broader point I was trying to make is t hat we cannot settle for this status quo and that the government and families have to do more and rethink our approach to fighting poverty.'
Fudge and Moore wrote that while the CBC and Ryan "may have many disagreements on the best way to approach this critical issue...we all agree on the pressing need to eradicate poverty in our nation.'
'Members of the CBC invite you to join us at our weekly meetings to discuss our perspectives on poverty in search of finding constructive common ground.'