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Ryan to Explain Plans to Fight Poverty, Inner City Comments with Congressional Black Caucus

Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

Caucus members, including WI Rep. Gwen Moore, want to challenge Rep. Paul Ryan for questioning the work ethic of men living in inner cities and for his plan scaling back anti-poverty programs.

Congressman Ryan made his comment about inner city men, on Bill Bennett’s radio program. Ryan had been talking about his plan to move people out of poverty.

“We have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities, in particular, of men not working – of generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work," Ryan said. "There there’s a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with."

In recent months, Ryan has partially blamed America’s War on Poverty, which started 50 years ago, for failing to move people out of poverty. He says the country has spent trillions of dollars and barely moved the needle. His office counts more than 90 federal programs and, according to Ryan, they sometimes penalize people for getting ahead.

“We call it a poverty trap. There are incentives not to work and to stay where you are," Ryan said. "That’s not what we want in society. We want upward mobility. We want people to reach their potential, and so the dignity of work is very important and we need to reemphasize work and reform our welfare programs."

Ryan says the U.S. needs to provide people with a roadmap for getting out of poverty while also bringing its budget into balance. His blueprint scales back programs including food stamps and health care coverage.

Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore recently criticized Ryan’s plan on MSNBC. “His budget does not balance arithmetically or morally," Moore said. "You can’t just cut benefits to the very, very poor, to those who are unemployed and say that you are helping the poor."

Yet Moore says she welcomes Wednesday’s planned dialog and mainly wants to talk about ways to eliminate poverty.

“He does seem to be interested in having a conversation about ending poverty, and we certainly agree on that," Moore said. "So, we see this as a tremendous opportunity to talk to a powerful member of Congress...about more strategic ways to help the poor with job training opportunities, with economic development activities that are focused and targeted, rather than just simply slashing and burning benefits.".

According to Moore, the black caucus will present Ryan with its plans for addressing poverty.

The meeting scheduled to take place, after Ryan's House Budget Committee holds another in a series of hearings on the federal government’s anti-poverty efforts.

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