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Clay Invites Paul Ryan To Visit St. Louis To Witness Effects Of Proposed Budget Cuts

Congressman Lacy Clay
File photo

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, may be at odds with House Budget chairman Paul Ryan when it comes to many issues – notably, federal spending.

But Clay offered up a written invitation to Ryan, R-Wisc., on Wednesday that’s based on one thing the two do have in common. They’re both Catholic.

Clay cited their faith’s strong focus on helping the poor in a personal invitation – hand-delivered to Ryan – that encourages the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee to come to St. Louis.

Clay also made clear his motive for the invite.

“Although we are of different parties, we share the same faith tradition, and hopefully, the core human values that our mother church considers to be universal matters of social and economic justice for all people,” Clay wrote. “Today, with an open heart, I extend a personal invitation to you, as a fellow Catholic, to come to St. Louis to experience first-hand, the devastating impact that the proposed House FY15 Republican budget would have on thousands of hard-working citizens whom I am honored to represent…”

Democrats have been attacking Ryan’s latest federal budget proposal, which calls for trimming the budget by more than $5 trillion over 10 years. The proposal would make sharp cuts in such programs as Medicaid and food stamps, as part of Ryan’s declared goal of a balanced federal budget by 2024. Medicare would be changed to a type of voucher program, where people over 65 would receive federal subsidies to purchase private insurance.

Ryan cites common interest in battling poverty

Clay’s invitation to Ryan came during the budget chief’s meeting Wednesday with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The session was the first since Ryan came under fire from some caucus members for recent radio comments in which he referred to 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 and the culture of work.”

Credit File photo
Paul Ryan

Ryan has said that his comments were unintentionally “inarticulate,’’ and were meant to reflect his concern about persistent poverty.

As for Wednesday’s caucus meeting, Ryan called it “an engaging and productive discussion.”

In his letter, Clay contended that the proposed GOP budget would devastate programs for the elderly, handicapped and the poor. 

“It is often said that a budget is a blueprint of our values…a moral roadmap of what really matters to real people,” he wrote. “I am sorry to report that in the state of Missouri, the proposed Republican FY15 budget would deprive over 13,000 low-income students of Pell Grants; leave over 3,000 at-risk children with no access to Head Start; allow over 1700 abused women to lose the protection of the STOP Violence Against Women Program; and would force almost 90,000 seniors to pay more for their medications by enlarging the Medicare Part D drug donut hole. 

“Your budget would also slash federal support for cherished Catholic nonprofit institutions like the renowned St. Patrick Center which has transformed the lives of thousands of homeless citizens from dependency to independence and dignity,” Clay continued. “I appeal to you as a fellow brother in faith to join me in earnest dialogue regarding our nation’s budget priorities.” 

Ryan, in turn, took note of his renewed focus on addressing poverty in a statement issued after the caucus meeting. “Poverty isn’t just a form of deprivation; it’s a form of isolation,” he wrote. “And though government must be part of the solution, everybody needs to get involved.

“The first step to real reform is a frank conversation," Ryan continued. "We need to figure out what works; we need to learn from people who are fighting poverty on the front lines.  And that conversation must go both ways. Simply defending the status quo or demanding more of the same is not an answer….”

As for Clay’s invitation, a spokesman for Ryan said, “Congressman Ryan appreciates Representative Clay’s invitation to visit St. Louis. It’s unclear if his schedule will accommodate a visit in the near future but I’ll certainly keep you posted if one does occur.”

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.