Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have declined to release details of their tax plan, because they want to work out the specifics with Congress after the election, Ryan said on Sunday.
"We want to have this debate in the public," he told This Week's George Stephanopoulos. "We want to have this debate with Congress."
Ryan was responding to Bill Clinton's Wednesday address to the Democratic National Convention, in which the former president claimed a Romney administration would eliminate middle class tax deductions. "If they stay with this $5 trillion tax cut plan in a debt reduction plan, the arithmetic tells us, no matter what they say, one of three things is about to happen," Clinton said. "One, assuming they try to do what they say they’ll do ... they’ll have to eliminate so many deductions, like the ones for home mortgages and charitable giving, that middle-class families will see their tax bills go up an average of $2,000, while anybody who makes $3 million or more will see their tax bill go down $250,000."
"The question is not necessarily what loopholes go, but who gets them," Ryan replied. "High income earners use most of the loopholes. That means they can shelter their income from taxation. But if you take those loopholes, those tax shelters, away from high income earners, more of their income is subject to taxation and that allows us to lower our tax rates on everybody."
Stephanopoulos pressed Ryan on this point, asking how Americans could trust Romney and Ryan to lower taxes on the middle class when they wouldn't say specifically which deductions they planned to eliminate. "Don't voters have a right to know which loopholes you're going to go after?" he asked.
"So Mitt Romney and I, based on our experience, think the best way to do this is to show the framework, show the outlines of these planks, and then work with Congress to do this," Ryan replied. "That's how you get things done."
Ryan also rejected Stephanopoulos' suggestion that this amounted to a "secret plan."
"What we don't want is a secret plan," he said. "What we don't want to do is cut some backroom deal like Obamacare and then hatch it to the country."
Clinton's numbers came from a Tax Policy Center study which Mitt Romney derided as "garbage." Nonetheless, the institute stands by its research, and pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA has deployed it in a new ad which echoes Clinton's line of attack.