Ryan: We'll work out tax reform specifics with Congress

Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. talks to firefighters in Oak Creek, Wis., Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. AP Photo/Morry Gash

Paul Ryan
Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. talks to firefighters in Oak Creek, Wis., Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.
AP Photo/Morry Gash

(CBS News) A number of prominent conservatives have expressed concern that the Romney campaign is hurting its chances this November by leaving key pieces of its tax policy agenda blank, but vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said over the weekend that those details need to be negotiated with Congress.

"I'm very familiar with how to make successful tax reforms take place," Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and member of the Ways and Means Committee, said in an interview conducted Friday with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody. "Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did it in 1986, but we haven't done it since 1986 for lots of reasons, which is we don't want to presume to say 'Here's exactly our way or the highway take it or leave it Congress.'"

Specifically, Brody asked Ryan what tax loopholes a Romney-Ryan administration would close. Mitt Romney has vowed to cut tax rates by 20 percent across the board and make a number of other tax cuts. He's pledged to do so without adding to the deficit by getting rid of certain tax deductions and loopholes. He's refused to say, however, which loopholes would be closed.

A recent study from the Tax Policy Center found that in order to carry out his plan, Romney would have to slash many popular tax benefits like the mortgage interest deduction and the child tax credit, leaving the middle class with a higher tax burden. The Obama campaign has seized on this report -- as well as Romney's reticence to name the loopholes he would close -- to slam the GOP candidate's plan.

Ryan told Brody that instead of dictating a specific plan to Congress, a Ryan administration would join Congress to "work on the loopholes that are enjoyed by the higher income earners, take away their tax shelters so more of their income is subject to taxation. That lowers everybody's tax rates."

"We have to be able to work with Congress on those details, on how to fill it in and more to the point we don't want to cut some backroom deal that they did with Obamacare where we hatched some plan behind the scenes and they spring it on the country," Ryan continued. "We want to do this in front, in the public, through congressional hearings with Congress so that we can get to the best conclusion with a public participation."

While the White House did cut backroom deals as it worked on its massive overhaul of federal health care policy, the Obama administration also engaged heavily with Congress in public meetings over health care reform, including one on-camera, seven-and-a-half hour bipartisan meeting.

While Ryan said the GOP ticket doesn't need to be more specific about its tax reform plans, the campaign is reportedly planning on shifting its messaging to give voters a clearer picture of Romney's economic plans.