Congressional Democrats took advantage of the news vacuum on Capitol Hill Tuesday to attack the budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.,and passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives earlier this month.
In a conference call, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, and representatives of the congressional Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific American caucuses told reporters that the budget would adversely impact on communities of color largely because it repeals the Affordable Care Act and cuts spending on Medicare, Medicaid and entitlement programs.
'To the extent that people of color are disproportionately poor, it would have a particularly chilling impact on them," said Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., a Congressional Black Caucus member. '
Democrats also question the commitment of Ryan, chair of the House Budget Committee, to combating poverty. Ryan, Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have talked about addressing poverty in America and spoken critically of some of President Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty programs of the 1960s.
Ryan's committee is scheduled to hold a hearing next Wednesday that's billed as a progress report on the war of poverty and lessons learned from the front lines. Later that day, Ryan is supposed to meet with black caucus members to explain remarks he made on a conservative talk radio show last month in which he questioned the work ethic of 'inner city' men.
'We have 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,' Ryan said on Reagan-era Education Secretary Bill Bennett's 'Morning in America' radio show.
Ryan later said his remarks were 'inarticulate.'
'Congressman Ryan is a nice guy, and as such he has tried to frame the comments that he made about inner city folks as just sort of an inarticulate way of communicating,' Moore said. 'His take on talking about poverty is to say we've spent millions or trillions on poverty programs and poverty won. We see that, essentially, as sort of playing with statistics or numbers. These poverty programs have helped raise people into the middle class by giving them job experience and have literally been a lifeline to millions of people.'