Yesterday, while David Gregory was lobbing softballs at Mitt Romney on “Meet the Press” on NBC, over on the ABC News Sunday show, George Stephanopoulos gave Congressman Paul Ryan a tougher time, especially when — at about 02:50 on the video above, which is transcribed below — Ryan refused to name a single loophole he and Romney would close in order to help pay for the massive tax cut they are promising to give the 1 Percent.
Watch how Ryan bristles when Stephanopoulos characterizes the Republican campaign’s refusal to lay out what it will do to restore economic growth as a “secret plan.”
In case you’re too young to remember, or it was so long ago that you have forgotten it, the term “secret plan” refers to a key campaign promise made by the Republican candidate, former Vice Pres. Richard Nixon, in the 1968 presidential campaign. The top issue then was America’s increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam. In his campaign, Nixon promised voters he would end the war if elected but refused to say how. A lot of voters were skeptical, because the current president, Lyndon Johnson, had been unable to find a way out of the war without forcing the United States to admit defeat. But when reporters pressed Nixon for details, he steadfastly refused, claiming that providing specifics might interfere with peace negotiations in Paris.
Nixon’s “secret plan” proved to be a quintessential campaign lie. After he was elected — with a 0.7 percent margin over Vice Pres. Hubert Humphrey — his plan proved to be nothing more than issuing an ultimatum to the North Vietnamese to cease and desist, which they ignored. The war dragged on six more years, until April 1975, when Nixon’s successor, Pres. Gerald Ford, ordered U.S. forces to evacuate after the fall of Saigon.
If you read between the lines in what Ryan said — or did not say — yesterday, it certainly appears that his and Romney’s secret plan to fix the economy is as false and empty as Nixon’s promise to end the war. You can bet that, if they’re elected, they’ll do what every president before them — Reagan, Bush I, Bush II and even Nixon himself — has done when faced with an economic slump: They’ll ramp up spending on infrastructure and rehire public sector workers in order to pump money into the economy.
The paradox, of course, is that this is also what Pres. Obama would do were it not for the resistance of Republican obstructionists in Congress, led by Rep. Paul Ryan and the rest of the House leadership, who put stalling the recovery in order to achieve their number one objective of making Obama a one-term president ahead of the interests of their constituents, who will face layoffs, bankruptcies and foreclosures as a result.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You and Governor Romney have argued that your tax cuts will be paid for by closing loopholes for the wealthy. But President Clinton took dead aim at that argument on Wednesday. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: If they stay with this $5 trillion tax cut plan, they’ll have to eliminate so many deductions, like the ones for home mortgages and charitable giving, that middle-class families will see their tax bills go up. Or, two, they’ll have to cut all the programs that help to empower middle-class families and help poor kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you make the math work without eliminating the big deductions that middle-class families rely on?
RYAN: Well, first of all, that — those claims have been pretty discredited. There have been five different studies –
STEPHANOPOULOS: How have they been discredited?
RYAN: — that show — that this — that this plan works. So the analysis you’re citing wasn’t even an analysis of the Romney plan.
But here’s the point I am trying to make here, George. We think the secret to economic growth is lower tax rates for families and successful small businesses by plugging loopholes.
Now the question is, not necessarily what loopholes go, but who gets them. High-income earners use most of the loopholes. That means they can shelter their income from taxation. But 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.
Here’s where the president wants to take the country. He wants to add a job-killing small-business tax increase on top of the current code, add even more loopholes and deductions to the code, more Washington picking winners and losers. That will crush jobs.
You have to remember, George, that most of our small businesses, they pay their taxes as individuals. Most of our jobs come from these successful small businesses. So we’ve shown — look, the Princeton study, the Harvard analysis, they have shown that you can lower tax rates, broaden the tax base, and, yes, there is still room left for broad-based policies that the middle class enjoy so that nobody has a tax increase. We just stop picking winners and losers in the tax code.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Congressman, as you know –
RYAN: When Reagan did this, it worked –
STEPHANOPOULOS: — many say it’s difficult –
RYAN: Go ahead, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: — to accept your word if you’re not going to specify which tax loopholes you’re willing to close. Don’t voters have a right to know which loopholes you’re going to go after?
RYAN: So Mitt Romney and I, based on our experience, think 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. The other thing, George, is–
STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn’t that a secret plan?
RYAN: — we don’t want to — no, no. No, no. What we don’t want is a secret plan. What we don’t want to do is cut some backroom deal like ObamaCare, and then hatch (ph) it (ph) to the country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But why not specify the –
RYAN: We want to do this –
STEPHANOPOULOS: — loopholes now?
RYAN: — out in the open –
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not say right now –
RYAN: — because we want to do this –
RYAN: — we want to have this — George, because 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.
And our priorities are high-income earners should not get these kinds of loopholes. And we should have broad-based policies that go to middle-class taxpayers, to make sure we can advance things that we care about, like charities. But that is a debate we shouldn’t cut in a back room, shouldn’t hatch a secret plan like ObamaCare. We should do it out in the public view where the public can participate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s exactly what I’m suggesting, having it in public before the election so voters can have that information before they make up their minds.
RYAN: We think the best way to get — look, I’ve been in Congress a number of years. I’ve been on the Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. And we think the best way to do this is to get this framework in place, and then negotiate, work with Democrats, work with people across the aisle, have these kinds of hearings, have this conversation to get this objective.
Source: ABC News.