Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) dismissed the concerns of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in an interview with Fox News on Thursday, after the powerful advocacy group criticized his budget for “failing to meet [the] moral criteria,” of protecting human dignity, prioritizing the needs of the hungry and homeless and promoting the common good. He also suggested that the criticism itself might not represent the Bishops’ consensus view — an insinuation the group directly rejects.
“These are not all the Catholic bishops, and we respectfully disagree,” Ryan said.
Here’s video, courtesy of Faith in Public Life:
USCCB spokesman Don Clemmer cleared the air in an email to TPM. “Bishops who chair USCCB committees are elected by their fellow bishops to represent all of the U.S. bishops on key issues at the national level,” he said. “The letters on the federal budget were written by bishops serving in this capacity.”
Ryan took a similar tack recently when he defended his plan to provide the Pentagon more money than the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified was necessary to promote U.S. strategic interests. He suggested that the generals might have been toeing the Obama administration line and requesting fewer funds from Congress than the military really needs.
“We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice,” he said. “We don’t think the generals believe that their budget is really the right budget.”
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, fired back, “There’s a difference between having someone say they don’t believe what you said versus … calling us, collectively, liars,” he told reporters. “My response is: I stand by my testimony. This was very much a strategy-driven process to which we mapped the budget.”
Ryan later claimed he misspoke, and called Dempsey to apologize.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.