Paul Ryan defends fiscal cliff vote: ‘Now we can finally debate spending’

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday defended his vote for the last minute fiscal cliff legislation that passed Congress this week, saying he supported it to “get this issue behind us, … prevent this massive tax increase and … focus on spending now.”

The 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee acknowledged in an interview with a Milwaukee radio host that he realized he would be criticized for his vote to extend tax cuts for most Americans while raising taxes on the wealthy, but said it was the best deal Republicans could get under the circumstances.

“What I know in my conscience is 98 percent of the families in Wisconsin are not going to get hit with a massive tax increase,” Ryan said Thursday, during an appearance on 620 WTMJ with Charlie Sykes.

The House budget committee chairman criticized his Republican colleagues who openly said they wanted the legislation to pass, but didn’t want to vote for it and have their name attached. (RELATED OPINION: Fiscal cliff deal is good politics but bad policy)

“I can’t tell you how many times I heard that over the day,” Ryan said. “If you think something needs to pass, then, you know, have the guts to vote for it, and face the music and endure the criticism you will inevitably get.”

Ryan said that with President Barack Obama accomplishing his goal of taxing the wealthy, Congress can focus on spending cuts now.

“He can no longer claim, ‘I will start talking about spending cuts once we tax the rich,’” Ryan said of Obama.

“Now that the president got his tax increase, because current law automatically did that, there’s no excuse,” he said. “Now we can finally debate spending — clean and simple spending.”

Ryan acknowledged, however, that Obama is still talking about making the affluent pay more in taxes.

“He has an insatiable appetite for this thing,” Ryan said. “He’s been extraordinarily partisan since his election, even to my surprise. But now there’s no excuse. There’s no getting around the fact that spending is the problem.”

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