Following 'inarticulate' comment, Paul Ryan discusses poverty with black caucus

Facing heavy criticism for a comment he made last month on men in inner cities not working, Rep. Paul Ryan met with the Congressional Black Caucus Wednesday to discuss solutions for poverty. 

  • close
    US Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) (c.) talks to reporters as he departs a Republican House caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington April 29.
    View Caption

Rep. Paul Ryan said Wednesday he had a productive meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, a gathering that came weeks after comments the Wisconsin Republican made about poverty and inner cities stirred allegations of racism from some members of the caucus.

The 2012 vice presidential nominee and members of the black caucus said the more than hour-long private meeting was polite but did not yield any policy breakthroughs.

"The first step to real reform is a frank conversation," Ryan said. "We need to figure out what works."

Recommended: 16 Republicans who might run in 2016

Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Marcia Fudge said the meeting included a "respectful and cordial discussion." The Ohio Democrat said everyone agreed that poverty was an important issue but that they disagreed on how to deal with it.

The meeting amounted to Ryan making good on a promise made after coming under heavy criticism for things he said on a talk radio show last month during a discussion about poverty.

"We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working," Ryan said on Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" show.

Democrats heavily criticized the comment, which they said contained racial undertones. Within a day, Ryan said he was inarticulate about the point he was trying to make and pledged to meet with the black caucus.

Fudge said Ryan reiterated during Wednesday's meeting that his comment was inarticulate.

Ryan said after the meeting that he was happy to begin a "conversation with my colleagues today."

Ryan has sought to make poverty a signature issue. Earlier Wednesday, he hosted a hearing focused on poverty his capacity as House Budget Committee chairman.

Share this story:
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.