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Paul Ryan Looking for Common Ground with Democrats on Taxes

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) remained critical of the president's outlook on the economy, calling it "happy talk," but wants to find a way to compromise.

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), who chairs the House's influential tax-writing committee, said Sunday on "Meet the Press" that he is open to making a deal on tax reform with President Obama. He signaled, however, that the window for compromise with Democrats may be a narrow one.

"We want to work with this administration to see if we can find common ground ... and we want to exhaust that possibility and if and when that possibility is exhausted, then we will put out what we think ought to be done." Ryan added, "We haven't done tax reform since 1986, because it is just that hard."

The new Ways and Means Committee Chairman said he supports expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, and is open to tackling business tax reform with Democrats, but made it clear he has big differences with the president on the individual tax system. "He's practicing yet again envy economics," he said. "I'm not interested in going down that path with him."

After President Obama's State of the Union address, Ryan was one of the only Republican lawmakers to praise him, telling MSNBC's "Morning Joe," "I'm glad that he sort of held back on the partisanship and demagoguery."

But on "Meet the Press," Ryan was more critical. "The big beef I have with the president's State of the Union ... is he gave us a lot of happy talk about the economy as if it was a mission accomplished speech. It is not mission accomplished."

Ryan acknowledged that the economy is improving, but called it the slowest recovery since World War II. "Middle income wages are stagnating. We've got to break out of this slog. And I do believe that there are things we can do hopefully in the next year to get this economy growing faster."

— Sarah Blackwill