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U.S. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said he turned over “several years” of tax records as part of Mitt Romney’s vetting process for choosing a running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.
Ryan also said he planned to release two years of his tax records to the public, as Romney has pledged to do. Democrats and even some Republicans have called on Romney to release more years of his returns.
“It was a very exhaustive vetting process,” Ryan said when asked about the tax issue in a joint interview with Romney on the CBS program “60 Minutes” that aired tonight. “There were several years” of returns that he provided, he said.
“But I’m going to release the -- the same amount of years that Governor Romney has” for public review, he added.
Romney, 65, has shared one year of personal income tax returns, from 2010, showing that he paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent on investment income that year. He has promised to release his 2011 returns when his accountants are finished.
“What I hear from people around this country, they’re not asking” about tax returns, said Ryan, 42. “They’re asking where the jobs are.”
Presidential candidates have been inconsistent in the number of returns they have made public. Ronald Reagan made seven years available; George H.W. Bush released three years; and Romney’s father, George, made 12 years of returns public when he ran for president in 1968.
In a portion of the interview that didn’t air on the show, Romney said President Barack Obama “robbed” Medicare to pay for the health-care legislation he pushed through Congress in 2010.
Romney made the claim when asked about the political risk of picking Ryan as his running mate. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan has led efforts to revamp Medicare, the government health-insurance program for the elderly.
“There’s only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare,” Romney responded, according to excerpts of the interview released by CBS.
The interview was the first joint one for the newly formed Republican ticket since Romney announced Ryan as his running- mate pick yesterday in Virginia.
“What Paul Ryan and I have talked about is saving Medicare, is providing people greater choice in Medicare, making sure it’s there for current seniors,” Romney said. “No changes, by the way, for current seniors, or those nearing retirement. But looking for young people down the road and saying, ‘We’re going to give you a bigger choice.’ In America, the nature of this country has been giving people more freedom, more choices.”
Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, said on the CBS program “Face the Nation” earlier today that the president has done nothing to harm Medicare.
“You know I heard Mitt Romney deride the $700 billion cuts in Medicare that the president achieved through health-care reform,” she said. “You know what those cuts are? It’s taking subsidies away from insurance companies. Taking rebates away from prescription drug companies. Is that what Mitt Romney wants to protect?”
Ryan has proposed replacing Medicare with a plan giving the elderly a fixed amount of money to buy private coverage. The theory is that competition among health insurers for their business will bring down spiraling costs. Since his initial proposal, he has softened the plan to offer the elderly a choice between the traditional Medicare and the fixed subsidies.
“My mom is a Medicare senior in Florida,” Ryan said in the excerpts CBS released but didn’t air on the program. “Our point is we need to preserve their benefits, because government made promises to them that they’ve organized their retirements around. In order to make sure we can do that, you must reform it for those of us who are younger. And we think these reforms are good reforms.”
Romney is scheduled to campaign tomorrow in the battleground and retiree-heavy state of Florida. Ryan, after joining Romney this weekend on bus tours in Virginia and North Carolina and at a rally tonight in Wisconsin, will campaign in Iowa.
Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Ryan’s vice presidential bid, said in an e-mail to reporters that the congressman is scheduled to visit central Florida next weekend.
In the interview, Romney said he picked Ryan because he was impressed by his understanding of the issues, his “political acumen,” and his family.
Ryan said Romney told him that he was being picked because the two men “share the same values” and that he has “the kinds of experiences that complement his skills.”
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