The Latest: Ryan opens door to tax cuts adding to deficit

WASHINGTON — The Latest on House Speaker Paul Ryan's interview with The Associated Press (all times local):

5:35 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is backing off months of promises that the Republicans' tax plan won't add to the nation's ballooning deficit.

Ryan declares in an AP Newsmaker interview that the most important goal of an overhaul is economic growth.

GOP leaders made that "revenue neutral" promise in a campaign manifesto last year and many times since.

But on Wednesday, when asked twice whether he would insist the emerging tax plan won't pile more billions onto the $20 trillion national debt, Ryan passed up the chance to affirm that commitment.

On the issue of immigration, Ryan pledged to find a solution for the nearly 800,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and now in the country illegally. He declared that removing them all is "not in our nation's interest."

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11:30 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says White House operations are "improving," but he's not saying whether he thinks that's because of recent West Wing personnel changes.

The Wisconsin Republican says in an AP Newsmakers interview that President Donald Trump's White House is "learning what works and I think they are improving."

Trump new chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, has been credited with instilling more order in the West Wing.

The previous chief of staff, Reince Priebus (ryns PREE'-bus), was a Ryan friend. And Ryan says Priebus was "doing a good job of getting some discipline."

Ryan isn't saying whether he feels the improvements are due to staff changes — such as Kelly's appointment or the departure of Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

Ryan also notes that the pace of lawmaking can prove frustrating for the businessman-turned-president.

In Ryan's words: "Congress doesn't work like a business."

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11:20 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump wanted a "bipartisan moment" when he reached a deal with Democratic leaders on the debt ceiling and hurricane relief.

Ryan calls the approach "reasonable."

The Wisconsin Republican says in an AP Newsmakers interview that that he wanted a more long-term increase to the debt ceiling beyond three months — hoping not to "play politics with the credit markets."

Ryan says Trump wanted to "clear the decks" to deal with the aftermath of the hurricanes and create some breathing room for Congress to work on taxes.

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11:15 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump took the right approach to phasing out a program that helped young immigrants living in the United States who were brought into the country as children.

The Wisconsin Republicans says in an AP Newsmakers interview that he wanted the White House to provide time for a legislative fix because he didn't want the program "to be rescinded on Day One and create chaos."

Trump has announced that he'll dismantle the Obama administration's program in six months.

Ryan says that window should give time for Congress to act.

He says deporting those covered by the program is "not in our nation's interest."

The Obama-era program extended temporary work permits and deportation protection to nearly 800,000 younger immigrants brought to this country illegally as minors.

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11:05 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is declining to say a tax overhaul Republicans are trying to write won't increase federal deficits.

In an AP Newsmakers interview on Wednesday, the Wisconsin Republican sidestepped a question on whether Republicans would ensure their still-evolving measure wouldn't boost budget shortfalls. He said the party plans to unveil its plans later this month and the goal will be to bolster economic growth.

Ryan says the GOP wants to enact a tax cut into law by the end of this year, not simply to push a bill through the House. He said he wants the U.S. to start 2018 with a new tax system.

Rewriting the tax code, including lowering personal and corporate income tax rates, is a top goal for President Donald Trump and the GOP.

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