Despite a devastating loss last week, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan rejected Democratic claims of a mandate to raise tax rates on the wealthy.That's complete nonsense. As a candidate, President Barack Obama promised that if reelected, he would not sign an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. There was no ambiguity about that, and last Tuesday Americans made their decision. President Obama didn't just win a big electoral college victory; he became just the second of the last 10 presidents to win a majority both times on the ballot. So yes, he does have a mandate—and the power—to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
Asked whether President Obama has a mandate on taxes, Ryan told ABC News' senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl that the House Republican majority is proof that the president does not.
"I don't think so, because they also reelected the House Republicans. So whether people intended or not, we've got divided government," Ryan, R-Wis., said in his first national interview since last week's loss.
As for Republicans maintaining control of the House of Representatives, Ryan's conclusion is pure malarkey. Republicans kept the House because they gerrymandered the hell out of it. Democrats running for the House actually got more than one million more votes than Republicans did, but thanks to the 2010 redistricting, Republicans still barely maintained control of Congress. So while it is true that John Boehner is speaker, that's only because the process for drawing district boundaries sucks. It's a fact of life we have to deal with, but it's not a mandate for Republicans—not one single bit.