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Paul Ryan worries tribal identity politics is "becoming the new norm" for both sides

Paul Ryan, Rep. Stefanik on midterms, deficit
Paul Ryan and Rep. Stefanik on deficit, tribal identity politics, and midterms 05:50

House Speaker Paul Ryan expressed concern about the direction of politics on both sides of the aisle in an interview with "CBS This Morning" co-host John Dickerson. When asked to address President Trump's rallies, which have become a signature of his presidency, and whether they "sow division" in the country, Ryan said "sometimes."

"Well not always, but sometimes....I worry about tribal identity politics becoming the new norm of how politics is waged. As conservatives, we always thought this was sort of a left-wing...thing. Unfortunately, the right practices identity politics now as well," Ryan said.

Ryan did not offer a broader criticism of Mr. Trump's style of politics but when asked by Dickerson whether the president practices "inclusive politics," Ryan said, "sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn't."

"Look on economic growth, on tax reform, on getting the military and helping veterans. Those are things that he has led us to that have really brought people together," Ryan said.

Ryan is not running for re-election, but he is campaigning for fellow Republicans like New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who also spoke to Dickerson, and is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. 

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Elise Stefanik on Trump's "horseface" comment 03:01

"I think this election is going to be focused on results versus resistance….What I know does not resonate with voters is this resistance effort where regardless of whether you agree with some of the focus of this administration, you're unwilling to work with them. So I think both parties need to address the tribalism that's happening," Stefanik said.   

Americans will vote in the midterm elections in less than three weeks. The latest CBS News polling predicts if the elections were held today, Democrats would win 226 seats in the House of Representatives – eight more than the 218 needed to take control. Still, Ryan said he feels "pretty good" about Republicans maintaining control of the House. 

"I think our voter enthusiasm is where it needs to be and more importantly we have a great record to run on," Ryan said.  "The agenda that we ran on in 2016 is the agenda that we executed in 2017 and 2018 and it's working. The economy is booming, the military is being rebuilt. The Veterans Administration has been overhauled. We have deregulated businesses so they can hire again."

Ryan cited last year's tax cuts as among his party's key accomplishments. "We cut taxes and we have higher revenue coming in," he said. "The economy grew 4.2 percent this quarter." However, a Gallup poll says 46 percent of the country does not approve of the tax cuts and 51 percent say the cut has not helped them financially.

"I think the narrative and the political rhetoric is obviously mixed on this. But when you break it down into its component parts, it's overwhelmingly popular. People are excited at the fact they're going to have a doubled child tax credit this year. People like the fact that their standard deduction has been doubled," Ryan said.  

Dickerson likened Ryan's explanation that "components parts" of the tax cuts make it popular to what Democrats said about the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Elise Stefanik: "Non-traditional" candidates are "most effective" in Congress 06:06

"I think putting more money in your own pocket versus paying higher health insurance premiums, I think the answer is pretty clear on this. People like the fact that they're getting bonuses, that 90 percent of American workers have bigger paychecks this year," Ryan said.

Separately, Dickerson pressed him on the rising deficits stemming in part from the Republican tax cut. New deficit numbers show that $779 billion was added to the deficit last year – the highest number since 2012 when the U.S. was in a recession.

"If this were a situation where you were trying to regain control of the House, you would be talking about the deficit from beginning to end of your speeches. But now you're on the hook for it," Dickerson asked Ryan.

"Revenues are up this year. Believe it or not, we cut taxes at the beginning of the year, and we have higher revenues this year. Why do we have higher revenues? Because we have faster economic growth, higher wages, more taxes are coming into the government," Ryan said.

Dickerson pushed back, pointing out that when you account for inflation, some of the revenues from the previous tax policy, and the revenue that would increase from population, the revenues are lower than they should be.

"Let me just say it this way. We cut taxes and we have higher revenues coming into the government today still," Ryan said.

"But you know that number's a wobbly number, and that it's actually lower than it would be had the policy remained static," Dickerson countered.

"If the economy didn't grow, that's exactly right. But the economy did grow as a result of these policies…. now we've had, we had 4.2 percent growth from this last quarter. That higher economic growth brings in more revenues," Ryan said. 

Stefanik is also the National Republican Congressional Committee's vice chair of recruitment, the first woman to hold that title. Earlier this year, she told "CBS This Morning" it was a "tough political climate." Asked to explain what she meant by that, Stefanik said, "Well I think there's a lot of volatility, John, in terms of the media pace. It is faster than any time I've experienced, but I'm very proud to be running on my record of results."

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