House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI,1) expressed regret this week for his past comments against poor Americans, saying in a major speech Wednesday that he was wrong for calling people "makers and takers."
"There was a time that I would talk about a difference between 'makers' and 'takers' in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits. But as I spent more time listening, really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized something. I realized that I was wrong," Ryan said during his speech about the state of American politics. "'Takers' wasn't how to refer to a single mom stuck in a poverty trap, trying to take care of her family. Most people don't want to be dependent. And to label a whole group of Americans that way was wrong. I shouldn't castigate a large group of Americans just to make a point."
In a question and answer session after his speech, delivered before a group of House interns, Ryan added, "I was callous and I oversimplified and I castigated people with a broad brush. That's wrong. And there's a lot of that happening in America today. I myself have made that mistake."
With the state budget impasse now in its ninth month, and as social service providers and higher education institutions struggle to stay afloat financially as a result, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL,11) drew attention Friday to what he says is the "single largest driver of the financial stress" facing Illinois.
Foster spoke at a discussion in Aurora with state lawmakers and social service providers impacted by the budget stalemate, and raised awareness about the "problem" of Illinois being a payer state.
Illinois is considered to be a "payer" or "donor" state because residents pay more in federal taxes than the state receives in the form of federal funds. Consequentially, approximately $40 billion leaves Illinois annually through the federal government, according to Foster, who is proposing legislation in Congress to address the payer state issue. As of 2013, Illinoisans paid about $1,400 per person more in federal taxes and got back about $1,770 less in federal spending than the national average.
Forbes 400 members, including just two African Americans and five Latinos, are wealthier than the entire bottom 61 percent of the U.S. population, representing 194 million people or 70 million households.
America's 20 wealthiest individuals alone (17 men and three women, all of whom are white) currently "own more wealth than the bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 152 million people in 57 million households," according to the report.
The wealth divide is even more striking when compared along racial lines.