In his latest remarks on poverty in America, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan accused residents of “inner cities” of having a “real culture problem” and lack of work ethic during an appearance on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America radio show Wednesday.
The House Budget Committee Chairman indicated his new policy proposals will include work requirements, saying he plans to “re-emphasize work and reform our welfare programs” as he repeatedly referenced former Pres. Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare reform efforts.
“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 to value the culture of work, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” Ryan said.
Ryan, who has become a prominent voice in the Republican party discussing poverty, said many Americans are “slipping through the cracks” and that Republicans and conservatives should have “something to say about it.”
Bennett responded by describing a “fatherless problem” in impoverished communities. Ryan, whose widowed mother raised him alone in his late teens, did not disagree with Bennett’s assessment, but noted that his mother was a strong influence in developing his work ethic, saying she often used the phrases “suck it up, deal with it, and tough” with him.
“A boy has to see a man working,” Bennett replied. Ryan agreed, “Absolutely.”
Ryan also pointed to the work of Charles Murray, a social scientist who has been identified as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center for arguing in his research that disadvantaged communities remain disadvantaged primarily because they cannot compete with white men because they are intellectually and morally inferior by comparison.
Ryan’s comments come a little more than a week after he released a 200-page report on poverty, which stopped short or making full policy proposals but criticized “inefficient” welfare programs like food stamps and Medicaid. Some of the experts cited in the report subsequently said they felt Ryan “either misunderstood or misrepresented their research” according to the Fiscal Times.
Ryan also put emphasis on the importance of people choosing to make a commitment to fighting poverty problems on an individual level as well. “You can’t just say I’m paying my taxes, government’s going to fix that. You need to get involved,” he said to Bennett.