Paul Ryan: Obama Has No Tax Mandate

ABC Newss Jonathan Karl sits down with Congressman Paul Ryan for his first post-election network television interview.
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Despite a devastating loss last week, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan rejected Democratic claims of a mandate to raise tax rates on the wealthy.

Asked whether President Obama has a mandate on taxes, Ryan told ABC News' senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl that the House Republican majority is proof that the president does not.

"I don't think so, because they also reelected the House Republicans. So whether people intended or not, we've got divided government," Ryan, R-Wis., said in his first national interview since last week's loss. "This is a very close election, and unfortunately divided government didn't work very well the last two years. We're going to have to make sure it works in the next two years."

Ryan returned to the Capitol today, resuming his duties as House Budget chairman. Even though the president aggressively campaigned on raising tax rates on the wealthy and exit polling showed a majority of voters embrace the president's position, Ryan was adamant in his opposition to that strategy.

"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 said. "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," he added. "That's a better way to do it.

Congressional leaders are scheduled to meet with the president at the White House this Friday, but lawmakers remain divided on the prospects for a bipartisan deal.

While some conservatives have openly blamed Romney for failing to deliver a victory last week, Ryan said he and his running mate "felt very good about the race we ran" while he marveled at the success of the president's ground game.

"We wanted to offer specific ideas and solutions rooted in our country's principles, on how to get people back to work and how to fix the debt crisis, strength in our military, and get people going, you know, back to work. And we offered those ideas," he said. "We ran the kind of campaign we wanted to run. I'm very proud of the campaign we ran, and it was an absolute honor to be on the ticket with Mitt Romney."

"The president deserves kudos for having a fantastic ground game, and the point I'm simply making is he won," Ryan continued. "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."

Ryan also said that the Romney campaign was "exactly the kind of campaign that I would've run had I been on the top of the ticket."

"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," Ryan said. "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."

Ryan, who was easily reelected to his eighth term in the House, said that he "went off the grid" after the loss last week. When news broke that CIA director David Petraeus was resigning due to an extramarital affair, Ryan said he was watching football and movies with his children and didn't even hear about the scandal until his wife Janna told him.

"I kind of took myself off the grid after the election," he said. "I don't know enough about his scandal to give you any comment about the timing or nature of it all. [But] it's terrible."

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