CLINTON, Iowa — It was a homecoming of sorts for Paul Ryan’s family here, but it didn’t stop some tough questions from Iowa voters who are used to grilling their candidates before casting their ballots. At his town hall here, the GOP vice presidential candidate was called out for more specifics from a voter.
“My question is, you know we keep talking about China and jobs and then we talk about the unemployment,” the woman wearing a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt said. “But, where are the answers? I mean, why aren’t you more specific? I heard you, was it Sunday when you were on Fox, and you didn’t answer his question about how we’re going to … you know, what are your plans?”
Ryan launched into Mitt Romney’s five-point plan focusing on energy, education, trade, and their tax plan. The tax plan, which Chris Wallace asked Ryan about on “Fox News Sunday” that the voter referred to, was mentioned last, but he again did not get into what loopholes the plan would close or what deductions they would eliminate in order to get to the 20 percent tax cut his ticket has promised.
“The problem is, it just took me about five minutes to go into all of this with you and when you are on a 30-second TV show, you can’t do it as much,” Ryan said.
He argued that his plan does have specifics, but did not get into those details of how they are able to get to that 20 percent figure.
“Now our plan says this,” Ryan said. “Lower tax rates across the board by 20 percent. How do you do that without losing revenues? By closing loopholes. We have about a trillion dollars a year of foregone revenues through all the various different loopholes and deductions, and what we’re saying is, the wealthier people who use a lot of these deductions, close their loopholes. So when a wealthier person can shelter money from being taxed, that means everybody pays higher tax rates. But if you subject more of their income to taxation, more of their income is taxed, and that allows us to lower revenues for everybody across the board. That means middle class taxpayers have lower tax rates and there’s plenty of fiscal room to keep these important preferences for middle class taxpayers like you know charitable donations, or buying a home, or healthcare.”
Ryan had been grilled over the same issue on Bloomberg television this morning and he said he would bring a “framework” to congressional Democrats instead of telling them “take it or leave it, it’s all my way or the highway” and that’s why he is not getting into the math, a similar reason both he and his running mate have given before.
At the end of his answer at the town hall, it didn’t seem to matter to the voter that Ryan again decided not to describe what loopholes his ticket would close, because she was smiling and nodding her head.
The Obama campaign responded to the questioner, saying Ryan “can’t attend his own campaign rallies without being called out for failing to provide specifics about what Mitt Romney would do if elected.”
“That’s because just one day before the first debate, Mitt Romney has refused to say which deductions he’d cut for the middle class in order to pay for his $250,000 tax cuts for multi-millionaires,” Obama spokesman Danny Kanner said in a statement. “They won’t share those details with the country because they know that the details are bad for middle class Americans. But tomorrow night, Mitt Romney will need more than ‘zingers’ and attacks on the President — he’ll need specifics — and his own supporters clearly agree.”
Despite the negative fallout from the hidden camera video from a fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., in which Romney said 47 percent of Americans that don’t pay taxes are “dependent” and “victims,” a questioner at the town hall seemed to embrace the comments asking if the “47 percent of the people in the United States” who pay no taxes should “pay a nominal fee or something so they feel that they have small ownership in the government, maybe they won’t take all the handouts so readily?”
Ryan, who unveiled his national debt power point for the first time at an outside event, acknowledged it is a “point that Mitt and I have been trying to make, and sometimes the point doesn’t get made the right way,” but their ticket wanted to get everyone back to work to make them “good tax payers.”
The trip to this eastern Iowa city marked the second day of his bus tour here and his sixth day campaigning in the battleground state since being selected as Mitt Romney’s running mate, but it was also a sentimental spot for his wife Janna. Her grandparents, Adelaide and Dr. Vernon Peterson lived here and raised Janna Ryan’s mother Prudence Little here. After the town hall, the extended Ryan clan stopped by their home now owned by Todd and Sarah Gravert.
It was an emotional visit, with Janna and her two sisters Molly and Dana getting teary eyed at the site of the red house with a screened-in porch on Pershing Boulevard here. Janna told the Graverts, who were joined by their two children Ty and Ben, “This is such a special house.”
The Ryan’s extended family is along for the Iowa bus tour. Janna’s sisters and also her father, Dan Little is on hand and her uncle Paul Petersen who grew up in the house. Ryan’s nephew Mac, son of Paul Ryan’s brother Tobin and his wife Oakleigh is also part of the kid contingent that includes the Ryans’ three children Liza, Charlie, and Sam.
Ryan is scheduled to stop in two more eastern Iowa cities on the tour: Muscatine and Burlington.