House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Tuesday refused to define "rich" because the wealthiest Americans were "job creators," and accused President Barack Obama of "verbal tantrums" for calling his proposed budget "thinly veiled social Darwinism."
During a speech in Washington last week, Obama blasted Republicans for proposing "more than a trillion dollars in tax giveaways for people making more than $250,000 a year."
"That's an average of at least $150,000 for every millionaire in this country," the president said. "It is a Trojan horse disguised as deficit reduction plans. It is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It is thinly veiled social Darwinism. It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity."
Speaking to MSNBC on Tuesday, Ryan shrugged off Obama's criticism.
"We're kind of used to these verbal tantrums from the president," the Wisconsin Republican opined.
"That was a verbal tantrum?" co-host Mika Brzezinski asked.
"I would think so," Ryan insisted. "Look at it this way, Mika, we proposed to increase annual federal spending from $3.6 trillion a year to $4.9 trillion over the ten year period instead of the president's $5.5 trillion. Apparently, the difference of that makes us social Darwinists?"
"You hear this kind of over-the-top rhetoric. I really think it more of a rhetorical broadside to distract from the fact the president isn't proposing solutions. He can't run on his record. He can't run on his broken promises. So, he's gong to use this kind of rhetoric to divide and distract Americans."
The non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found that nearly two-thirds of the cuts proposed in Ryan's budget would be to programs serving low-income Americans, while the his tax cuts would largely benefit millionaires. People making more than $1 million a year would see a 12.5 percent increase in after-tax income but those making less than $20,000 would see an increase of 0.2 percent or less.
Ryan argued on Tuesday that because he would close tax loopholes for the rich, the tax cuts would be revenue neutral.
"You talk about deductions and who should get them and who should not, that's sort of making choices," Brzezinski noted. "What then is wrong with the Buffett rule [to address income inequality and tax fairness]?"
"It represents a huge tax increase on job creators," Ryan argued. "Remember that 80 percent of our businesses file their taxes as individuals so they would get hit by this Buffett rule.
"Let's define rich," Scarborough suggested. "So, what's the cutoff? Is it $500,000?"
"I don't even want to get into what the cutoff is because I don't think we should get into this definition," Ryan said. "But I'm not going to give you what I think is a rich person and what I think is not a rich person because you have to look at the fact that these are job creators."
Watch to the video below from MSNBC's Morning Joe, broadcast on April 10, 2012.
(H/T: The Huffington Post)