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Biden, Ryan Spar on Economic Policies during Vice-Presidential Debate

Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan shared center stage Thursday night in a lively vice-presidential debate. It was the only one planned between the two candidates for this election.

Throughout the 90-minute event held at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, the spirited politicians went head to head over topics such as the foreign policy, national security, Medicare, Social Security, taxes and the American economy.

Here are some highlights of significant topics related to economic issues:


Ryan warned the American people that both two longstanding entitlement programs — Medicare and Social Security — are going broke. In the process, he said, they are draining the U.S budget. At least $716 billion has been taken from Medicare to pay for Obamacare, Ryan said.

“Even their own chief actuary at Medicare backs this up. He says you can’t spend the same dollar twice. You can’t claim that this money goes to Medicare and Obamacare,” Ryan said.

Ryan also said he is opposed to the idea of an appointed 15-person board the Obama administration is in the process of assembling to help cut Medicare expenses. This is a concept he believes will lead to denied care for current seniors.

Ryan said the Mitt Romney/Ryan ticket would offer Americans choices. When younger people become eligible for Medicare, they would have guaranteed coverage options, including traditional Medicare. Once you select a plan, Medicare would subsidize premiums. Wealthy people would not receive as much coverage as middle-income and the poor and the sick would be taken care of, he said.

The vice presidential nominee stated the current administration is trying to scare the American people about the concept of ‘vouchers’ when “they haven’t put a credible solution on the table.”

Biden disagreed, saying the Romney/Ryan ticket would in fact raise costs for future seniors using a voucher system.

“Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad, and they eliminate the guarantee of Medicare,” Biden said.

Biden said the administration saved $716 billion and applied it to Medicare. By preventing the government from overpaying doctors, hospitals and insurance companies, Biden contends they can extend the life of Medicare to 2024.

Ryan warned if the Medicare issue is not fixed soon, current senior benefits will be cut. “Here’s the problem: 10,000 people are retiring every single day in America today and they will for 20 years. That’s not a political thing, that’s a math thing,” he said.

Biden responded saying $156 billion could be saved immediately if Medicare was allowed to bargain for the cost of drugs as Medicaid can.

Social Security

Biden said the administration is not interested in privatizing social security.

“If we had listened to Governor Romney and the congressman (Ryan) during the Bush years, imagine where all those seniors would be now if their money had been in the market,” Biden said.

Ryan promised to ensure the future of Social Security.

“If we don’t shore up Social Security, when we run out of the IOUs, when the program goes bankrupt, a 25 percent across-the-board benefit cut kicks in on current seniors in the middle of their retirement. We’re going to stop that from happening,” Ryan said.

Tax Plans

Ryan adamantly defended Romney’s tax plan of lowering tax rates 20 percent.

“We raised about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forego about $1.1 trillion in loopholes and deductions. And so what we’re saying is, deny those loopholes and deductions to higher-income taxpayers so that more of their income is taxed, which has a broader base of taxation,” Ryan said.

Six studies, he said, guarantee this math adds up and will not raise the deficit or raise taxes on the middle class.

Biden said Democrats ticket would like to extend the middle-class tax cut permanently. With the current administration’s plan, the middle class will pay less and those who make $1 million or more will contribute a little more. The Bush cuts for the wealthy, he said, should be allowed to expire.

“Of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, $800 million . . . of that goes to people making a minimum of $1 million,” Biden said.

Small business

Ryan voiced his concern for how the possible changes in tax breaks may impact small business owners.

“Now, we think that government taking 28 percent of a family and business’s income is enough. President Obama thinks that the government ought to be able to take as much as 44.8 percent of a small business’s income,” Ryan said.

“Two-thirds of our jobs come from small businesses. This one tax would actually tax about 53 percent of small-business income. It’s expected to cost us 710,000 jobs. And you know what? It doesn’t even pay for 10 percent of their proposed deficit spending increases,” he added.

Biden countered saying 97 percent of small businesses would not be impacted as they make less than $250,000 per year.

“Let me tell you who some of those other small businesses are: hedge funds that make $600 million, $800 million a year,” Biden said. “That’s what they count as small businesses, because they’re pass-through.”


When asked by debate moderator Martha Raddatz about the state of economy, Biden responded saying he and President Barack Obama entered office, the economy was in a free fall. Some nine million people lost their jobs and $1.6 trillion in wealth was lost in home equity and in retirement accounts for the middle class, he said.

“We knew we had to act for the middle class. We immediately went out and rescued General Motors. We went ahead and made sure that we cut taxes for the middle class,” Biden said.

In the future, Biden said he believes they can get unemployment under 6 percent.

Biden said the two budgets introduced by Ryan will knock 19 million people off of Medicare, kick 200,000 children out of early education as well as eliminate the tax credit people use when they send their children to college. Education, he said, will see $450 billion in cuts.

Near the end of the debate, Ryan warned of an impending debt crisis. While he admitted the current administration inherited a tough situation, Ryan said government is going in the wrong direction.

“Look at where we are. The economy is barely limping along. It’s growing a 1.3 percent. That’s slower than it grew last year and last year was slower than the year before,” Ryan said.

Job growth has been too slow and he believes the country is headed in the wrong direction as 23 million Americans are struggling for work, 15 percent are living in poverty today, he said.

Ryan said he and Romney offer a five-point plan:

“Get America energy independent in North America by the end of the decade. Help people who are hurting get the skills they need to get the jobs they want. Get this deficit and debt under control to prevent a debt crisis. Make trade work for America so we can make more things in America and sell them overseas, and champion small businesses. Don’t raise taxes on small businesses because they’re our job creators.”

Biden said he and Obama plan to continue to bring relief to the people who need it most.

“And the president and I are not going to rest until that playing field is leveled, they, in fact, have a clear shot, and they have peace of mind, until they can turn to their kid and say with a degree of confidence, ‘Honey, it’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK.’ That’s what this is all about,” he said.

Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it in 2012, helping birth into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering the high finance world of college and professional sports for major publications, including the Associated Press, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His interest in sports has waned some, but he is as passionate as ever about not reaching for his wallet. Bill can be reached at [email protected].


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    1. Transcript of vice presidential debate. (2012, October 11). Foxnews. Retrieved from:
    2. Sparks fly as Biden, Ryan face off in feisty vice presidential debate. Fox News. (2012, October 12). Retrieved from: