Ryan gives some detail on Romney tax plans

Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a Bloomberg interview broadcast Tuesday provided a bit more detail on the tax overhaul plans of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Ryan has been under fire since a weekend appearance on Fox News Sunday in which he said he did not have time in the interview to get into the details of the plan.

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Romney has proposed lowering taxes by 20 percent across the board for individuals and lowering the corporate rate to 25 percent in a deficit-neutral way that shields the middle class from net tax increases. Democrats have said the math doesn’t add up.

Ryan, interviewed in Iowa, said that the plan will go after tax deductions and said clearly that individuals making $150,000 per year will see a net tax cut. Romney last week warned an Ohio audience not to expect a tax cut necessarily.

“You are going to have a net tax rate reduction, a net tax liability reduction,” Ryan said when asked about those at the $150,000 level.

To accomplish this feat, Romney backs going after tax breaks “primarily” for upper-income individuals, Ryan said.

“You can lower tax rates across the board by 20 percent, primarily limit your deductions from those at the top end, and then get rid of all those nook and cranny special-interest tax expenditures ... and you can do this without raising taxes on middle-class taxpayers. This actually lowers their taxes,” he said.

Ryan said that a Tax Policy Center study that says it is impossible to do the tax cuts without raising middle-class taxes was flawed, and did not take economic growth effects into account.

He refused to say which tax breaks will be eliminated, but said there is “fiscal space” for popular deductions on home mortgage interest, charitable contributions and healthcare to stay.

He said further detail would hinder an ultimate deal in Congress.

“You don’t say to Congress, to Democrats you want to work with, take it or leave it, it's all my way or the highway,” he said. “We have learned ... the best way to maximize success is to leave some room for negotiation.”

The vice presidential candidate was also asked whether Romney plans to close the carried interest loophole that allows hedge fund managers to have their income taxed at the 15 percent capital gains rate rather than as ordinary income. Ryan dodged the question, saying the GOP ticket does not want to raise taxes on capital.

Ryan, who was hit in a Washington Post article over the weekend for failing to be bipartisan enough, defended himself on Tuesday. He noted that he came up with a Medicare overhaul, which kept traditional Medicare as an option alongside a premium support model, that was supported by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

He also noted his work on a line-item veto bill with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who is helping Vice President Biden prepare for his Oct. 11 debate with Ryan.

Ryan reiterated his opposition to the Bowles-Simpson deficit plan, which he voted against and signaled he would not support as an alternative to the year-end fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax increases. He again said he opposes it over its failure to deal with runaway healthcare spending, rather than mentioning its revenue increase.

“What I don’t want to see us high-five each other at a podium in Washington, say we fixed the problem, know we didn’t and then the bond markets get you,” he said. 

— This story was updated at 12:55 p.m.