Biden, Ryan clash over Medicare, Social Security

7:38 AM, Oct 12, 2012   |    comments
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DANVILLE, Ky. - Vice President Joe Biden and congressman Paul Ryan are clashing over their plans for Medicare and Social Security, government programs for seniors.

Often appearing exasperated by Ryan, Biden says he and President Barack Obama would never sign onto the sort of voucher program proposed by Ryan and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Ryan fired back that the Republican plan would give seniors more choice in their medical care.

Romney's plan would introduce undetermined subsidies to help future retirees buy private insurance or join a government plan modeled on traditional Medicare. Obama's health care law cuts Medicare spending for hospitals and other providers by more than $700 billion over a decade. Those cuts are being used to provide health insurance to more working-age Americans.

Biden says Ryan and Republicans must take responsibility for obstructing the economic recovery.

Biden says in the vice presidential debate that Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, has stood in the way of making middle-class tax cuts permanent and helping struggling homeowners. He says Ryan and Mitt Romney shouldn't talk about how they care about people until they're ready to pitch in.

Ryan says this isn't what a real recovery looks like. He points out that unemployment in Biden's hometown of Scranton, Pa., is at 10 percent, compared to 8.5 percent when Biden and President Barack Obama took office.

Ryan says Biden and Obama want to raise taxes on small businesses, while he and Romney want to help struggling Americans get good jobs.

Biden says Republican Mitt Romney's opposition to the auto bailout and government steps to prevent foreclosures "shouldn't be surprising" given his comments about the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income tax.

Biden is referring to remarks Romney made to wealthy donors. In a secretly recorded video, Romney said 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims and entitled to government help.

Sitting alongside Romney running mate Paul Ryan, Biden says some of those people are senior citizens show are living off social security.

Obama never mentioned Romney's comments in his first debate, to the dismay of many Democrats.

Romney has since said his comments were wrong. Biden says if voters believe they were a mistake, he has "a bridge to sell you."

Ryan says there aren't enough rich Americans to tax to pay for all of President Barack Obama's spending.

Ryan tells viewers of the vice presidential debate, quote, "Watch out, middle class. The tax bill is coming to you."

Ryan says he and Mitt Romney want to give Congress a framework for taxes that involves lowering rates by 20 percent. He says he guarantees that can be paid for by closing loopholes, mostly on the upper class. But he isn't saying which loopholes he'd close.

Biden says the only way to pay for Romney's plan is to raise middle-class taxes. He says Republicans insist on needless tax cuts for the rich and are holding hostage middle-class tax cuts that Obama wants to make permanent.

Biden says it's up to Afghanistan to take responsibility for its own security.

Ryan said he doesn't want the United States to lose the gains achieved in its decade-long war there following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Both Biden and Ryan conveyed at Thursday's presidential debate that it's time to wind down U.S. involvement. Ryan said he agrees with President Obama in transitioning out of the country by 2014, but said the White House should not announce a deadline for withdrawal and expose weakness.

Both men were responding to a question about why American troops shouldn't just leave Afghanistan immediately.

Ryan says nobody is proposing sending U.S. troops to Syria.

Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden are arguing over whether there's any difference between them on how to deal with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Ryan is accusing Biden and President Barack Obama of outsourcing U.S. foreign policy to the United Nations. He says Obama gave Russia veto power, and that the longer the conflict has continued, the more groups like al-Qaida will flood into Syria.

Biden says the last thing the U.S. needs is another Mideast ground war and that if Ryan and Mitt Romney want to put U.S. troops in Syria, they should say so. He says Romney talks a lot about Obama's strategy being unsuccessful, but can't say what he would do differently.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu played a prominent role in the debate.

Ryan accused Biden and President Obama of ignoring Netanyahu and giving Iran the time to forge ahead toward building a nuclear weapon. Biden dismissed him and said Obama's met with "Bibi" dozens of times. Ryan's accusations, Biden said, "is a bunch of stuff," or "malarkey."

Biden said the Iranians don't yet have a nuclear weapon and called any claim to the contrary "loose talk." In a speech to the United Nations last month, Netanyahu said Iran was ready to move to the final stage of making a nuclear weapon.

Biden and Ryan say their Catholic faith informs their public policy decisions, but they come down on different sides of the abortion debate.

Biden said his Catholicism teaches that life begins at conception but that he would not impose that belief on people of other faiths. Ryan said he opposes abortion but that the policy of a Romney administration would include exceptions in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at stake.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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