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Congressman, thanks for joining us.
RYAN: Good to be with you, Norah.
O'DONNELL: You heard the president say it, he said he is more than happy to work with Republicans. Are you more than happy to work with him?
RYAN: Well, I have been more happy to work with him, but he hasn't been acting like that.
You know, what we've learned in this presidency, he says one thing and does another.
He gave us four budget, Norah, each of which had trillion dollar deficits, none of which ever, ever proposed to actually balance the budget.
His allies in the Senate haven't even given us a budget for three years. So we've passed budgets, we've led.
Mitt Romney and I have offered a specific plan to prevent a debt crisis, to save Medicare and Social Security, to create jobs, to get us growing again.
It's a five point plan for a stronger middle class which is aimed to get us out of this weak recovery we have and get us back to growing our economy like we ought to.
We got a troubling jobs report on Friday, Norah, that said for everybody who got a job, nearly four people stopped looking for a job. This isn't working.
O'DONNELL: Let me...
RYAN: President Obama's rhetoric to the side, it's just not working and that's why we're offering the country a better choice.
O'DONNELL: Well, let me ask you about that better choice, that specific plan that you mentioned. You and Mitt Romney are proposing $5 trillion in tax cuts, you're proposing to increase defense spending by $2 trillion. Explain to me how that adds up and you can cut the deficit?
RYAN: Neither of those are accurate, number one.
Number two, we're talking about revenue neutral tax reform, meaning not losing revenue but changing the way we raise revenue by plugging loopholes and tax shelters that are uniquely enjoyed by higher income earners so that more of their income is subject to taxation so that we can lower tax rates for everybody, family, small businesses, get the economic growth creation.
You know, there's some Democrats who agree with us on this kind of approach to tax reform, unfortunately, it's not President Obama. He's been on the outside looking in on this for a long time.
He's proposing to put a new high tax rate on successful small businesses on top of the current tax code and add even more complexity to the tax code...
O'DONNELL: You're saying that tax (inaudible) Obama Care?
O'DONNELL: That's what you mean by the tax on (inaudible).
RYAN: Well, no, I was talking about the tax he mentioned in his -- that clip that you just played for me, that particular tax increase that he's talking about pays for about 8 percent of his proposed deficit spending.
If you had all of his tax increases, like the Obama Care tax you're talking about, in everyone, they don't even pay for a fifth of his proposed deficit spending.
O'DONNELL: The Tax Policy Center has done an analysis and they say there is no way to pay for the cuts that you've proposed without either increasing the deficit or raising taxes on the middle class because you would have to get rid of deductions and loopholes that benefit the middle class in order to pay for those tax cuts that you're proposing and that increase in defense spending.
RYAN: So the good news for us, Norah, is they didn't actually analyze the Romney Plan. There are five other studies that have. What...
O'DONNELL: There isn't a Romney Plan that's been specific about which deductions and loopholes he's -- will close.
RYAN: Right, so let -- let me -- let me address that.
So one study from Princeton just said that we can accomplish exactly what we're saying to accomplish which is broaden the base, lower rates.
What -- what I mean when I say that is, it's not what loopholes are out there, but who gets them. And we're saying by not having higher income earners utilize these tax shelters, we can lower tax rates on everybody because they pay more of their income to taxation.
Here's the other issue, Norah. We don't want to do this in a backroom deal kind of a way like Obama Care was done.
We want to have a debate out in front, work with Congress, work with the public to find out what are the priorities we want to have in the tax system. And what the numbers do who and what studies back us up is that we can lower tax rates by plugging loopholes and still maintain special preferences from middle class taxpayers, not for higher incomes taxpayers, though.
That's what we want to do, but we don't want to say our way or the highway. What we learned from our experience, my working with Democrats and Congress, Mitt Romney as governor of a Democratic state is that you don't say, here's my plan, take it or leave it, you say here are the outlines of my plan for job creation and economy growth.
O'DONNELL: Let's talk about some of the cuts that have been agreed to. Mitt Romney said in an interview on NBC that Republicans were wrong to agree to a deal last summer that included automatic cuts to defense spending in exchange for this agreement to raise the debt ceiling. He said it was big mistake by Republicans.
He's talking about you because you voted for those cuts, correct?
RYAN: I did, you know why I voted for it? Because I was working to find common ground with Democrats to get a down payment on deficit reduction.
I worked with President Obama to find common ground to get a down payment on deficit reduction. It wasn't a big down payment but it was a step in the right direction.
Here's the issue, Bob Woodward just wrote this in his book, the devastating defense cuts that are now coming due were insisted upon by the Obama Administration so that they would not have to face another debt ceiling increase before the election.
O'DONNELL: But Congressman, that's...
RYAN: That's putting -- that's putting -- that's putting politics out of national security.
More to the point, Norah, I authored the bill, brought it to the floor, and passed it to prevent the president's irresponsible, devastating defense cuts from occurring by cutting wasteful Washington spending in other areas of government to replace these defense cuts.
O'DONNELL: Congressman, these defense cuts are part of the Budget Control Act. You voted for the Budget Control Act. In fact I went and looked, you put on the a statement at the time it was passed and you called it a victory, and you called it a positive step forward.
So, you voted for defense cuts. And now you're criticizing the president for those same defense cuts that you voted for and called a victory.
RYAN: No, no, I have to correct you on this, Norah. I voted for a mechanism that says a sequester will occur if we don't cut $1.2 trillion spending in government. We offered $1.2 trillion in various -- the super committee offered it. We passed in the House a bill to prevent those devastating defense cuts by cutting spending elsewhere. The senate's done nothing. President Obama's done nothing.
I wrote another bill, passed it, got signed into law, Democrats supported us, President Obama If he is not going to help us with a plan to prevent those defense cuts by substituting them from elsewhere, what's his plan for the sequester? He's ignoring the law. He was supposed to give these to us yesterday.
So the problem, Norah, is we've led. We wanted to have a bipartisan agreement. We got that. And the president hasn't fulfilled his end of the bipartisan agreement.
The goal was never that these defense cuts actually occur, the goal is that we get to work and cut spending so that we prevent those defense cuts. We've done that. The president hasn't.
O'DONNELL: Congressman, it's my understanding that as part of the Budget Control Act there was not just the sequestration, the defense sequestration, but there is also $1 trillion in immediate spending cuts, which included the defense cuts, almost $400 billion that were proposed by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Mr. Dempsey, as well as Secretary Panetta. And you also voted for those.
And now you're saying that you didn't vote for them?
RYAN: We can get into this nomenclature. I voted for the Budget Control Act but the Obama administration proposed $470 billion in defense cuts. We don't agree with that. Our budget rejected that. And then on top of that is another $500 billion in defense cuts.
O'DONNELL: Right, it's a trillion in defense spending. And you voted for it.
RYAN: No, Norah, I voted for the Budget Control Act.
O'DONNELL: That included defense spending.
RYAN: Norah, you're mistaken.
I do not support the Obama budget. I do not support the Obama $478 billion in cuts. So, number one, that's half of the trillion we don't support. Our budget reflected that.
Number two, we passed legislation to reflect what we want as part of the Budget Control Act, which is to cut spending in other areas of government instead of the Pentagon, that bill is sitting in the senate right now.
President Obama has done nothing to support it, to oppose it. He hasn't even shown us how he's going to implement this sequester. And if you go back and read the tape. If you go back and read Bob Woodward's book, the reason the defense cuts are in the sequester as they are, was that the insistence of the Obama administration. O'DONNELL: Let's turn now to foreign policy.
President Obama said in his convention speech you may have heard. He talked about you and Governor Romney as newcomers to foreign policy to subscribe to a blustering and blundering approach. Do you have a response to that?
RYAN: I think this is what people do when they have nothing else to offer. I think these are the kind of name calling you're going to get from the president. I have more foreign policy experience coming into this job than President Obama did coming into his.
Mitt Romney and I share the view that we need peace through strength, that we need to have a strong national defense. I wrote the bill to prevent the sequester from happening because we think those devastating defense cuts will dramatically weaken our national security. We think the president's been wrong on Iran. And we think he's dragged his feet on Iran, and as a result of his poor Iran policy, they're that much closer to a nuclear weapon.
Now, the president has had some success. Osama bin Laden is a perfect example. But by and large, I think what the president is doing here is he can't run on his record. So he's going to be offering us this kind of rhetoric.
O'DONNELL: Can you explain how do you have more foreign policy experience than Senator Obama did? He was on the foreign relations committee. What is your foreign policy experience?
RYAN: I've been in congress for 14 years. He was in the senate for far, far less time that that. I voted-- you know, Norah, I voted to send men and women to war. I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan. I've met with our troops to get their perspectives. I've been to the funerals. I've talked to the widows. I've talked to the wives, the moms and dads. That's something. That matters.
I take this very seriously. I've done doing this for 14 years.
O'DONNELL: Who do you America's number one enemy is?
RYAN: Well, I think a nuclear Iran is our biggest foreign policy threat today.
O'DONNELL The reason I ask you that is Mitt Romney was criticized during the Democratic National Convention for saying Russia is without question our number one geopolitical foe. So do you disagree with Mitt Romney?
RYAN: No, I think what he was saying was among the other powers -- China and Russia -- that Russia stands a great threat.
Look, I think sending our foreign policy decisions to be cleared through the U.N. security council where we're giving Iran and China -- excuse me, Russia and China, veto clout over us, that's not good policy. So what we have done through our foreign policy for the Obama administration is we've increase the clout in the card of Russia and China. I think that was a mistake.
O'DONNELL: Finally, let me ask you about the time that you gave in terms of when you were asked about running a marathon and you said you had run a two hour and 50-something marathon. It turned out of course it was over four hours. You know, when I first heard that, I thought he must have misspoke or perhaps he didn't remember, but a lot of people-- this keeps coming up. I mean, you are a fitness buff. You are a numbers guy. How did you make that mistake?
RYAN: It was an honest mistake. I was 20 years old. I hurt my back when I was about 23 or 24 and I had to quit running. I herniated a disk in my back. So I just lost perspective on what normal times are.
I ran an ordinary race and I thought the answer I gave was an ordinary time. Obviously, it wasn't. It was 22 years ago. You know, I think that's happening here is the president doesn't have a positive story to say, so they're trying to use this kind of rhetoric. My brother's been busting my chops ever since I said that because he is an actual marathon runner and he's been saying, "are you crazy? That's crazy fast."
Look, it was just an honest mistake.
O'DONNELL: All right. But remember, everybody was criticizing Al Gore when he said he invented the Internet whether fairly or unfairly.
RYAN: 22 years ago -- I stopped running a long time ago because I had these back issues and I lost perspective of what ordinary times are.
O'DONNELL: All right, Congressman Ryan who has run, to be clear, an over four hour marathon. Thank you, congressman. Good to see you. We appreciate it.
RYAN: You too, Norah. Have a good one.
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