Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) joined a minority of his fellow House Republicans this week in voting for the fiscal cliff deal that allowed tax rates to rise on the top one percent of taxpayers. For the next two days, he took to the conservative talk radio circuit in order to defend that vote.
“We had been hit with a $4.4 trillion dollar tax increase yesterday, and I had the opportunity to knock it down by $3.8 trillion dollars,” Ryan told radio host Hugh Hewitt Wednesday. Since tax rates had already reverted back to Clinton-era levels for everyone once the vote took place January 1, he argued, he was actually voting to cut taxes.In addition to allowing tax rates to rise on income over $400,000 for individuals ($450,000 for households), many conservatives, including the 151 Republican representatives who did not back the bill, also took issue with the deal because it lacked serious spending cuts and entitlement reform measures.
But Ryan pushed back against this line of criticism as well. With the tax issue to bed, Ryan said, House Republicans would have significant leverage to demand spending and entitlement cuts in exchange for a raise in the federal debt ceiling projected to take place in two months.
“That’s what we’re all working on strategizing,” Ryan said. “How do we get the most of spending cuts and reforms during this debt debate?”
Ryan also took the opportunity to knock fellow House Republicans who, he explained on Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes’ 620 WTMJ show Thursday morning, wanted the bill to pass but “not with my vote.”
“If you think something needs to pass, then, you know, have the guts to vote for it, and face the music, endure the criticism you will inevitably get,” Ryan said.