COLORADO SPRINGS - A five minute chat with Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan turned into a very informative conversation. In between pitching the Romney/Ryan five point plan to turn around the economy, we talked about medical marijuana. It was a question suggested by Paul on our KRDO NewsChannel 13 Facebook page. Medical marijuana is a hot button issue in our state and across the nation.
I asked Congressman Ryan: "In Colorado we have medical marijuana. Under a Romney Ryan ticket, what happens?"
Ryan: "It's up to Coloradans to decide."
I said: "So even if federal law says marijuana is illegal, you're saying?"
Ryan: "My personal positions on this issue have been let the states decide what to do with these things. This is something that is not a high priority of ours as to whether or not we go down the road on this issue. What I've always believed is the states should decide. I personally don't agree with it, but this is something Coloradans have to decide for themselves."
We also spoke about tax cuts for small businesses to spur on growth. It is a consistent conservative Republican argument that tax cuts help create jobs. Paul Ryan said, "Eight out of ten businesses in America file their taxes as individuals and President Obama is promising their top tax rate goes above 40 percent in January. The Canadians just lowered their tax rate to 15 percent on their businesses. We just can't compete with tax rates like that."
I spoke with a tax accountant who is a conservative republican about those claims. He didn't want his name used. I did do some fact checking with him about Paul Ryan's comments. The tax expert told me the reason why eight out of ten businesses file taxes as individuals is because it simplifies the administration needed to run a business including their tax preparation. However, when it comes to the claim about Canada's tax rate, the accountant told me that only a small percentage of Canadian small businesses qualify for that lower rate based on income. It actually goes up to 34 percent when you add in local and state taxes in Canada. January is also when the Bush-era tax cuts end. Currently the highest rate is 39 percent. The tax expert told me that rate will go up, but not significantly.
My question to Paul Ryan was, "How would you insure that if you cut taxes, businesses would hire? His response was, "You remove the barriers from small businesses, they'll put more people to work. They'll grow their businesses." I also asked, "So how would you hold their feet to the fire?" Ryan responded, "First of all it's his money (the business owner). The money made in America isn't the government's money. It's the small business owner who made it."
The tax specialist I spoke with also told me he has 100 small business clients. A small business is defined by him as one that has 500 employees or less. The accountant also said that while revenues have increased for those businesses, they haven't hired more workers. He said, they've lived with a motto of "Do more with less employees."