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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ryan Defends His \'Yes\' Vote on Automatic Defense Cuts


WASHINGTON â€" Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president, on Sunday defended his decision to support automatic cuts in defense spending as a way to force a deal on reducing the deficit, an approach that was sharply criticized by his running mate, Mitt Romney.

Mr. Ryan said that he backed the deal, which could result in an automatic 8 percent cut in defense spending in January, in an effort to find a compromise with Democrats on deficit reduction.

“I worked with President Obama to find common ground to get a down payment on deficit reduction,” Mr. Ryan explained in an appearance on the CBS program “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “It wasn't a big down payment, but it was a step in the right direction.”

Mr. Ryan emphasized that he and his fellow House Republicans had come up with alternative spending cuts to prevent the automatic reductions from taking effect. He accused Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats of failing to do their part.

“We passed, in the House, a bill to prevent those devastating defense cuts by cutting spending elsewhere,'” Mr. Ryan said. “The Senate's done nothing. President Obama's done nothing.”

“We wanted to have a bipartisan agreement; we got that,” he added. “And the president hasn't fulfilled his end of that bipartisan agreement.”

The House bill, which Mr. Ryan authored and Senate Democrats oppose, would stave off reductions in military spending by cutting safety-net programs for the poor, including food stamps, school-lunch subsidies and children's health insurance.

Mr. Obama said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that any budget deal should require the wealthiest Am ericans to do their part by paying higher taxes, an approach that has been rejected by Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney.

In an interview broadcast on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Mr. Obama said that he was “willing to do more” to work with Republicans to try to find additional spending cuts. ”But we've also got to ask people like me or Governor Romney who have done better than anybody else over the course of the last decade and whose taxes are just about lower than they've been in the last 50 years to do a little bit more.”

At the Democratic National Convention, former President Bill Clinton accused Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan of planning to eliminate tax deductions that help the middle class and the poor, including deductions for home mortgages and charitable donations, to cover the costs of their proposed tax cuts.

In a separate appearance on the ABC program “This Week,” Mr. Ryan declined to say whether that was true.

“Our priorities ar e high-income earners should not get these kinds of loopholes,'” said Mr. Ryan, who repeatedly refused to specify the particular loopholes he had in mind.

“We want to have this debate with Congress,” he said. “And we want to do this with the consent of the elected representatives of the people and figure out what loopholes should stay or go and who should or should not get them.”

On foreign policy, Mr. Ryan told the host of “This Week,” George Stephanopolous, that he and Mr. Romney agreed with Mr. Obama's plan to exit Afghanistan by 2014. But he said he feared that the troops lack adequate resources.

“Where we've taken issue is making sure that the generals on the ground get the resources they need throughout the entire fighting season so that they can keep our soldiers safe and operating counterinsurgency strategy,” said Mr. Ryan, who described the killing of Osama bin Laden ”a great success.”

Mr. Ryan also defended Mr. Romney , who has been criticized by Democrats for describing Russia as the country's “No. 1 geopolitical foe.”

On “Face the Nation,” Mr. Ryan said that a nuclear Iran was the United States' biggest foreign policy threat and that Mr. Romney meant to say that “among the other powers, China and Russia, that Russia stands as a great threat.”