Ryan pressed for specifics on tax plan, economy

Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. speaks during a campaign stop at Walker Manufacturing in Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012.
AP Photo/Ed Andrieski

CLINTON, Iowa - A demand for more specifics from Republican nominee Mitt Romney's campaign came not from the Washington pundits, but from a potential voter at an event hosted by running mate Paul Ryan on Tuesday.

"We keep talking about China and jobs and then we talk about the unemployment. But, where are the answers?" the woman, who did not state her name, asked Ryan during a town hall meeting outside the Clinton County Courthouse. "Why aren't you more specific? I heard you, was it Sunday, when you were on FOX, and you didn't answer his question."

She was apparently referring to Ryan's interview earlier this week with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, when Ryan told Wallace he didn't have time to get into the math of his tax plan after he was pressed for specifics.

"When you get into math conversation, it can take a little while," Ryan said at the town hall meeting, and launched into a description of the five-point plan he and Romney are offering that they say will create more domestic energy, reform the education system, boost trade, reduce the deficit and help small businesses.

"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," he said, instructing the crowd to visit the campaign website for more detail.

Discussing reform of the tax code, Ryan stressed the importance of closing loopholes for the wealthy in order to lower tax rates for everyone.

"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," Ryan said. "So when a wealthier person can shelter money from being taxed, that means everybody pays higher tax rates."

Eliminating tax shelters for the rich, he said, would help pay for the 20-percent, across-the-board cut in tax rates that the Republicans are proposing. And, Ryan said, certain important "preferences" would be retained for the middle class, such as deductions for charitable donations, home mortgages and health care expenses.

Campaigning in Ohio last week, Romney warned voters not to expect a giant tax break because he wanted to close deductions and exemptions.

"Our individual income taxes are ones I want to reform, make them simpler. I want to bring the rates down," he said. "By the way, don't be expecting a huge cut in taxes because I'm also going to lower deductions and exemptions. But by bringing rates down, we'll be able to let small businesses keep more of their money so they can hire more people."

Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner issued a statement after the Ryan event saying, "Congressman 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. And he's refused to say how he'd replace Obamacare or Wall Street reform to protect middle class families or prevent the big banks from writing their own rules again."

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.