Congressman Keith Ellison and other black Democrats emerged from a Wednesday meeting with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan on reducing poverty with a similar frustrated message: We still don't agree on solutions.
The session was set to find common ground between members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who want to tackle poverty largely by boosting federal spending on programs for the poor, and Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman whose recent budget bill would slash hundreds of billions of dollars from those same initiatives.
“The point that his budget basically goes after the poor, cuts taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the middle and working classes … that points was very well made in the meeting,” Ellison said during a Wednesday appearance on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.”
“We should cut taxes and we should cut the social safety net because we have to cut the debt. That’s pretty much where he was coming from.”
Ryan, who angered black lawmakers in March with his comments about the causes of inner-city poverty, met with the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday and pledged to study its proposal to help the poor.
Congressional Black Caucus members said Ryan did not directly address his remarks, including when he said there was 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 of work."
Many Democrats blasted the comments as a criticism of black culture.
“In terms of him accounting for his inaccurate … claim that generations of urban men don’t want to work. No, he never did really address that and certainly didn’t apologize for it,” Ellison said.
Ryan made the remarks on a talk-radio show, and said later he had been "inarticulate."
Ryan's budget plan, passed with only House Republican support earlier this month, proposes deep cuts to domestic safety-net programs, including many that aid the poor, in order to eliminate deficits within 10 years. But he will review the black caucus proposal, the so called “10-20-30” plan, that would direct 10 percent of federal anti-poverty spending to communities where at least 20 percent of the population have lived below the poverty line for at least the last 30 years.
“He said that he’d been on a tour to talk to people in areas where the poverty was high and he has a lot to learn,” Ellison said Wednesday. “I think he’s right about that.”