Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Sunday refused to reject a hypothetical debt-reduction deal that would include both spending cuts and tax hikes.
In an interview on ABC’s This Week airing Sunday, Ryan was asked if he would straight reject a deal which would provide $1 in new taxes for every $10 in spending cuts.
Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee, said he would weigh the “quality of the agreement.”
Ryan also did not endorse such a proposal, noting that no such deal had been offered to Republicans and suggesting that he was rejecting the premise of the question.
“There’s no deal to walk away from. The point is, you’re not giving me a deal to look at. You’re giving me ratios,” said Ryan. “Here’s — let me say this. Our problem is not that we are overtaxed. We are overtaxed. Our problem is we spend too much money.”
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney rejected just such a hypothetical deal during a Republican primary debate late last year. Romney later defended that decision, saying his proposals would bring new revenues without raising tax rates.
“We can have lower rates, as I have proposed, that creates more growth and we can limit deductions and exemptions,” Romney said during an interview with CBS in June.
In his interview Sunday, Ryan also defended Romney's tax plans. Romney and Ryan say they will close many loopholes in the tax code and leave people with lower tax rates across the board, but Democrats say the campaign has refused to specify which loopholes they would eliminate and that the ticket would make it easier for the wealthy to shield their assets.
Ryan said there was no “secret plan” and that Romney would work with lawmakers to overhaul the tax code if elected.
“The best way to do this is to show the framework, show the outlines of these plans, and then to work with Congress to do this. That’s how you get things done,” he said. “We want to have this debate in the public. We want to have this debate with Congress. And we want to do this with the consent of the elected representatives of the people and figure out what loopholes should stay or go and who should or should not get them.”
Ryan said that any changes to tax policy would be done in public and not “cut in the back room.” We “shouldn’t hatch a secret plan like ObamaCare. We should do it out in the public view where the public can participate,” he said.
In his interview, Ryan acknowledged that “high income earners use most of the loopholes,” a criticism from Democrats, but said the goal was that “high income earners should not get these kinds of loopholes.”
“If you take those loopholes, those tax shelters away from high income earners, more of their income is subject to taxation. And that allows us to lower tax rates on everybody — small businesses, families, economic growth,” said Ryan.
This story was updated at 10:40 a.m.