GOP Rep. Ryan: Americans Are Wrong To Support President Obama On Fairer Taxes

September 20, 2011 1:59 pm ET — Alan Pyke

When presented with information that contradicts his existing views, GOP Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) doesn't tend to handle it well. Sometimes, as with this year's August recess, he simply flees from disagreements with his constituents. Other times, he tells reporters that people only disagree with him because they don't know any better, as though misinformation or ignorance are the only things that could lead someone to oppose replacing Medicare with undervalued coupons.

Ryan took the latter approach to polling on taxes in an interview today with Laura Ingraham, who pressed him for a response to President Obama's observation that his tax proposal is "not class warfare, it's math." After Ingraham brought up the scores of polls showing Americans want higher taxes on the wealthy to reduce the deficit, Ryan explained that Americans just don't know what they're talking about.

"Well when they see the details," Ryan said, "that it hurts job creation, when you know the truth that spending is the culprit of the problem here, that hurts the economy." That sentence may read awkwardly, but the hardheaded rejection of the American people's position is plenty clear.

RYAN: First of all, we passed a budget to balance the budget, pay off the debt, grow the economy by drilling for oil, reforming the tax system. The do-nothing comes from the Senate, that has gone for 820 days of not passing anything, let alone a budget. So they've got a lot of bills over there that we've sent them that they could pass. Second of all, when it comes to taxes, what we're saying is get rid of all the loopholes and lower tax rates for everybody. If you wanna talk about the wealthy, take away the tax shelters that they disproportionately use to hide their money from taxation, get rid of those loopholes and then you can lower everybody's tax rates.

INGRAHAM: Right but that doesn't respond to the question, Congressman, the people support tax increases. How do you combat that?

RYAN: Well when they see the details that it hurts job creation, when you know the truth that spending is the culprit of the problem here, that hurts the economy. Tax increases in a recession, which we might go into in a minute here, and we're in a very bad economy already, hurt the economy. The president asmuch [sic] said that during the last recession. So raising taxes on job creators hurts job creation.


Ryan's initial response — recycling the claim that the GOP's budget both pays down the debt and cuts everyone's taxes without favoring the rich — is dishonest and self-contradictory. But it also exposes the central tension here: While the GOP attempts to rewrite the social contract so they can cut taxes to Herbert Hoover levels, Democrats argue that President Bush's right-wing economic experiments with taxation and deregulation failed to produce the promised growth, and we should try something else. As Ingraham pointed out, Republicans will be squaring off against a clear majority of Americans as they continue to press that fight.