Paul Ryan, the budget-cutting congressman from Wisconsin who ran with Mitt Romney on the Republican presidential ticket, maintains that the re-elected President Barack Obama is carrying no mandate for tax increases.
“I don’t think so, because they also reelected the House Republicans,” Ryan says in an interview airing on ABC News’ “World News with Diane Sawyer” tonight and “Good Morning America” tomorrow. The interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl is his first national commentary since Romney’s loss to Obama on Nov. 6, with Ryan returning this week to the House where he will serve another term.
“Whether people intended or not, we’ve got divided government,” Ryan says in the interview, adding: “This is a very close election, and unfortunately divided government didn’t work very well the last two years. We’re gonna have to make sure it works in the next two years.”
Obama is intent on raising taxes on the highest-earning Americans when the Bush-era tax cuts expire at year’s end. Ryan, House Budget Committee chairman, campaigned with Romney for across-the-board tax cuts.
“Raising tax rates hurts economic growth and of all things we need right now, to prevent a fiscal cliff, prevent a recession, prevent a debt crisis, is we need people to go back to work,” Ryan says in the ABC interview. “There are other ways of getting more revenue into our government without damaging the economy, and that’s the kind of thing we hope to achieve… Take away the loopholes. That’s a better way to do it.”
Ryan credits Obama, who won 50.8 percent of the popular vote on Nov. 6 and a convincing majority of the electoral vote, with running “a fantastic ground game, and the point I’m simply making is he won… He won fair and square. He got more votes, and that’s the way our system works, and so he ought to be congratulated for that.”
At the same time, he says, “we thought we had a very good chance of winning. You know, the polling and the data and all the people who are the smart people who watch this stuff — they had a pretty optimistic view on the night… Going into Boston that day, we felt like we had a pretty darn good chance of winning. So as you can imagine, it was a bit of a shock when we didn’t win, but that’s just the way these things go.”
There is good news and bad news in any election, says the congressman who returns to Washington in January to start an eighth term. For his children, he says, this one’s good news.
“Bad news: Dad lost, the good news: They get to stay at the same school,” Ryan says. “That was the upside of all this. The downside is we didn’t win the election that we really wanted to win.”
Asked about any intentions of running for president in 2016:
“Aren’t you tired of presidential politics? I know I am,” he says with a laugh. “Let’s just deal with one thing at a time. I gotta think people are a little sick of hearing about presidential speculation after we just finished this presidential campaign.”