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Top Republican sees possible compromise on corporate taxes

By Martina Stewart, CNN.com Political Producer
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Sun October 9, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rep. Ryan says Republicans agree with calls for corporate tax reform
  • "I think we'll pass these things," he says
  • President Obama is pushing his jobs bill

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A leading Republican on fiscal and economic issues said Sunday that, in the midst of rampant disagreement in Washington about how best to turn around the faltering economy, he thinks the White House, Democrats, and his party may be able to reach a compromise on corporate tax rates.

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, noted that in a recent speech President Obama spotlighted business tax reform and passage of trade agreements as two areas where agreement might be reached and legislative action could be taken soon. "Great," he said. "We agree with those. Let's do those. We're bringing these trade agreements up next week in the House. I think we'll pass these things."

"What about business tax reform?" Ryan said. "I don't think the president seems to be willing to work with us on individual tax reform but on business tax reform."

Ryan added that he believes an agreement on lowering the corporate tax rate is possible and that the work on the bipartisan debt "super committee" presents an avenue for an agreement to be reached.

"I think the super committee should do that. I think they have the wherewithal to do that. And I really do believe that that will help us create jobs," the Republican lawmaker said. Ryan added that the United States has higher corporate tax rates than other countries. "And we're losing as a result of it," he said.

Ryan is the architect of a Republican budget proposal that has stoked controversy because of the way it would change Medicare by replacing the traditional insurance benefits the program currently provides with a voucher for a set amount that Medicare recipients could use to purchase health care insurance in the private marketplace.

Recently, Ryan has been a fierce critic of Democratic proposals on taxes, spending, and boosting the economy -- a pattern of attack that he continued Sunday.

Ryan slammed President Obama when asked about the jobs bill that Obama has been vigorously pushing in speeches, press conferences, and appearances mostly in battleground states.

"What's concerning about it is that he's put ideas in this jobs bill that have already proven to fail. Instead of trying to get compromise, he's embracing conflict. He's running around the country campaigning on a bill that he knows won't pass -- he can't even get it out of the Senate right now -- rather than working with us on ideas that we agree on that would actually help create jobs."

"We want to go with ideas that work," Ryan also said.

In a press conference about his jobs bill last Thursday, the president responded to the notion that in pushing for his jobs bill, he is laying the groundwork to run a 2012 re-election campaign that faults Congress -- especially congressional Republicans -- for not doing more to help the economy. At the same time, Obama once again implored Congress to take action.

Asked if he was trying to run against a "do-nothing Congress," Obama said: "If Congress does something, then I can't run against a do-nothing Congress."

"If Congress does nothing," the president added, then "I think the American people will run them out of town."

An amended version of Obama's bill that includes a surtax on millionaires is expected to be voted on in the Democratically-controlled Senate this week. Last week, the Congressional Budget Office said the new proposal to tax income above $1 million would generate enough revenue to pay the cost of Obama's $447 billion jobs bill. The new millionaires tax was added by leading Senate Democrats to make Obama's bill more palatable to his own party.

In the Republican-controlled House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said the GOP will not bring the original version of Obama's bill up for a vote.

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