Elizabeth Warren wants a fight with Paul Ryan. Sen. Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ryan (R-Wis.) are both considered to be intellectual leaders in their own spheres — Warren on the populist wing of the Democratic Party and Ryan on the Tea Party wing of the GOP. Both relish data, sweeping lessons from history and the kind of wonkery that has grown popular in Washington.

Warren, in comments at the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor’s Humphrey-Mondale Dinner on March 29th, worked to frame the debate as one about the character of working people in America. For Ryan, an oppressive nanny state has created coddled citizenry too lazy to find work. For Warren, special interests have successfully written the rules of the game in their own favor, depriving the middle-class of a fair shot.

Warren keyed in on what Ryan recently dubbed as an "inner-city" culture of "men not working."

She began by quoting comments that Ryan made on a conservative radio show last month, stating, "We have got this 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, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with."

Warren took aim at his view of the unemployed. "Paul Ryan looks around, sees three unemployed workers for every job opening in America, and blames the people who can’t find a job," she said. "In 2008, this economy crashed, wiping out millions of jobs."

She went on, "Paul Ryan says don’t blame Wall Street: the guys who made billions of dollars cheating American families; don’t blame decades of deregulation that took the cops off the beat while the big banks looted the American economy. Don’t blame the Republican Secretary of the Treasury, and the Republican president who set in motion a no-strings-attached bailout for the biggest banks. Nope. Paul Ryan says keep the monies flowing to the powerful corporations, keep their huge tax breaks, keep the special deals for the too-big-to-fail banks and put the blame on hardworking, play-by-the-rules Americans who lost their jobs."

"That may be Paul Ryan’s vision of how America works, but that is not our vision of this great country," she said.

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