Ryan: Expanded EITC Is Area 'Where We Can Find Common Ground' With Obama

By Susan Jones | January 21, 2015 | 8:55 AM EST

In this April 5, 2011 file photo, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., touts his 2012 federal budget during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says he's glad that President Obama "sort of held back on the partisanship and the demagoguery" in Tuesday night's State of the Union speech, and if that "tone" continues, it "makes it easier for us to reach common ground," he said.

Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Wednesday, Ryan was asked if he and other Republicans could support some of Obama's anti-poverty proposals, such as the the child care tax credit and an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

The EITC is a form of welfare through the tax code for low-wage families. "The EITC is a refundable tax credit available to eligible workers with relatively low earnings," says the Congressional Research Service. "Because the credit is refundable, and EITC recipient need not owe taxes to receive the benefits."

Ryan said yes to some of them:

"I think the EITC, if done correctly and reformed and the fraud is taken out of it, is a really good thing to pull people in (to the work force). And I think expanding EITC to childless workers -- it's a proposal I put out last summer. It basically mirrors the president's proposal.



"So I think there are areas where where we can find common ground. Some of those we'd probably say no to, but some of them, I think they're a yes."

Ryan said Republicans also "want to get a transportation bill done," and he mentioned that the highway trust fund will be bankrupt by spring.

"So there are things that I do think we can find common ground on. And what helps is, lower the partisanship, lower the demagoguery, and by the way, if Republicans don't agree with you, don't impugn their motives."

Ryan called Obama's State of the Union speech "a good start."  

"So let's just really work hard at trying to find common ground, and don't take our proposals out of context -- graft on something that you know we don't like, and then say we're against it because he's offering it. That's something that just doesn't bode well for getting things done. So I just hope that the tone continues -- that makes it easier for us to reach common ground."

In his speech, Obama said he wants to help "working families feel more secure... That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement.  And my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year."

Ryan, who floated his own anti-poverty proposal last year, said poverty is an issue that "must be addressed head-on."

"It is a very good thing for this country, in both parties, to start debating how we fix poverty. We've got to stop measuring things by how much money we spend, how many programs we create, but we need to start measuring our efforts by our outcomes, by results -- are we getting people out of poverty? And the more people who bring this debate up, the better off we are."

'Alternative universe'

Ryan said he's accustomed to seeing "more divisive, partisan speeches from the president," but "he didn't do that as much" Tuesday night.

"What worries me a little bit about this speech though, Mika, is just sort of the alternative universe he painted on -- on, like, the economy and foreign policy. If you were living on a different planet for the last six years and you just parachuted in, you'd think everything's going great -- that the policies are perfect, but that's just not the case.

"And what I worry about is that he actually believes this alternative universe on foreign policy, on the economy; and we've got a lot of work to do to fix these things, and I worry that he thinks things are going fine, that we ought to stay with what we're doing, and I just disagree with that.

"He just offered a big tax increase. He knows we're not going to do that...the last thing the economy needs is a big tax increase. I think the key secret to a healthier economy with more opportunity, getting people from welfare to work, growing this economy, is tax reform. It's a screwed up tax code. We need to fix it."

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