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While castigating Obama, Ryan backs search for common ground

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February 09, 2015 | comments

By Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

When it comes to dealing with President Barack Obama, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said he will search for common ground but won't hesitate to push forward Republican ideas.

The Janesville Republican, who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, voiced that twin track approach during an hourlong conversation with moderator Mike Gousha during an "On the Issues" presentation at Marquette University.

Ryan had tough words for Obama on foreign policy, claiming the president "made big mistakes in Iraq, is about to make a big one in Afghanistan."

"His policy with respect to Iran and the greater Middle East has been terrible," Ryan said, adding the country lacks an overall strategy to deal with "radical Islamic terrorism."

Ryan said the United States should work with moderate Muslim nations and needs to lead with what he called "moral clarity."

"It also means having a comprehensive foreign policy, which we don't have," Ryan said. "It also means having a military that is not stretched too thin."

Ryan indicated that over the next year Republicans will try to find "common ground" with Obama to pass legislation, pointing to areas of potential agreement over trade and taxes.

On taxes, Ryan said Republicans want "reform for everybody, individuals and businesses," while the White House wants to reform only business taxes.

"We have to see if we can find a way in making that work," Ryan said. "For us, small businesses are the key to it."

Ryan said bipartisan solutions will also have to be hammered out over Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians and funding for the Highway Trust Fund.

"I think there are areas where we have to work together just to make things work, to keep the economy moving," he said.

Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate, also provided further insight into his decision to not run for president in 2016. Ryan said he essentially decided against the run late last fall and reaffirmed the decision over the Christmas holidays. He and his wife have three young children and he wants to maintain a balance between his family life and his political life.

Ryan said he could make an "enormous difference" on the issues he cares about by chairing the Ways and Means Committee. He said he couldn't run the committee and then turn around and run for president.

"I'm 45 years old," he said. "I can always do these things later if I want. I'm just not one of these people who thinks it's now or never."


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