It’s been a week since the first presidential debate and President Obama’s somewhat lackluster performance. Now it’s time for the clash of the number twos. Tomorrow night in Dannville, Kentucky Vice President Joe Biden and VP candidate Paul Ryan square off for the only Vice Presidential debate.
In the past, there generally hasn’t been a great deal of interest in Vice Presidential debates but following Mitt Romney‘s hard tack to the center last week that knocked the President off his game one wonders if Ryan will attempt a similar dodge as Romney.
This election’s debate promises to be one of the most watched VP debates ever. And it will probably be one of the more important ones as well. Previous debates have not really influenced the outcomes of elections but the President’s poll numbers took a dip immediately following the debate last week. Currently the consensus is the President and Governor Romney are tied.
Joe Biden, often lampooned for making candid, off the cuff statements, is expected to play the role of attack dog in this debate in an effort to stop the level of support seeming to be hemorrhaging from the campaign. Paul Ryan, on the other hand is the Republican’s self professed ‘numbers guy’ policy wonk. When asked in an interview recently how he thought Vice President Biden would approach the debate Ryan quipped, “I think he’ll come at me like a cannonball”. So this debate should have plenty of fireworks.
Vice President Biden has lots of ammunition to work with primarily Ryan’s budget plan. Unlike Romney’s vague ‘trust me I’ll tell you how it’s paid for after I’m elected’ plan, Ryan’s plan is on paper and the Vice President ought to bring a copy and quote from it. In the past when pressed for details on how his budget would reduce the deficit Ryan has replied, “I don’t want to get all wonky on you”, or “It would take too long to go into the math”. That should be Biden’s queue to say, “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll cede you some of my time. Get wonky”. Ryan will probably have anticipated this and actually have some figures that maybe make sense but Joe should probably be able to rebut those figures just in case.
The Romney / Ryan plan calls for a twenty percent tax cut across the board for all income groups and a corporate tax cut for corporations. This will cost 4.8 trillion over the next five years. How do they expect to pay for that? Mitt Romney says by closing loopholes in the tax code but neither he nor Ryan will say which ones. Although Romney has said he won’t touch the estate loophole or the charity loophole. Yet every credible economist has said that the Romney / Ryan budget won’t pay for itself unless it guts government programs that benefit the middle class. Cue Joe Biden again.
Ryan wants to turn Medicare into a voucher system. To be clear, a voucher is a coupon. Which is fine if the costs of health care exist in a vacuum but since the Ryan budget pays for it with the same $716 billion that Obamacare transferred out of Medicare. The only difference is that Obamacare put the onus on health providers, Ryan’s plan would put it on seniors. Obamacare encourages health care providers to control costs. A Ryan voucher isn’t much good if the costs continue to escalate. Which is better? $5.00 off a ten dollar purchase or $5.00 off a $100.00 purchase?
Then there’s Obamacare itself. Both Romney and Ryan want to repeal it. But replace it with what? Get ‘em Joe. Or how about Dodd-Frank, the already weakened bill putting regulations on Wall Street after they caused the financial collapse. Romney and Ryan want to roll that back as well. Let the bankers run wild again. Sic ‘em, Joe. The list goes on.
Ryan should be concerned. It’s possible that Vice President Biden could not only deny Paul Ryan his job, he could cost Ryan is seat as a Wisconsin Representative. One of Ryan’s criticisms of President Obama was that he claims that the President broke a promise to keep the GM plant in Ryan’s district from shuttering its doors (it actually closed at he end of the Bush era). But at the same time, Romney and Ryan have been vocal in their objections to the auto industry bailout.
All the Vice President has to point out is that President Obama saved the company. Shouldn’t it be Paul Ryan’s responsibility to lobby GM to keep the plant open in his own district?
So go ahead and get wonky. We’ll wait.
- Vice presidential debate could be a tale of two Ryans (reuters.com)
- Joe Biden May Be Gaffe-Prone, But He’s Still More Likeable Than Paul Ryan (businessinsider.com)