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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Vice Presidential Debate: Stats Biden And Ryan Might Use

Michael Juliani |
October 11, 2012 | 10:06 a.m. PDT

Assistant News Editor

Students posing as Joe Biden and Paul Ryan on the debate set.  (Flickr Creative Commons)
Students posing as Joe Biden and Paul Ryan on the debate set. (Flickr Creative Commons)

While the country anticipates the possible gaffes, pitfalls and implications of the vice presidential debate Thursday night, the candidates are (or should be) prepping to hit each other on certain statistics.

Following the first presidential debate, which changed the course of the election, Joe Biden should be trying to press Paul Ryan on points that many say Barack Obama didn't do enough to contest.

The Right has already knighted Biden as a bonafide gaffe machine, with Marco Rubio claiming at a rally that Biden is "the best thing we've got going."

Romney spent much of the first debate referring to plans to heal the country from Obama's four years of damage to the economy, the tax code, healthcare and Medicare, but strayed from specifics even when Obama pressed him.

"At some point the American people have to ask themselves: Is the reason Governor Romney is keeping all these plans secret, is it because they're going to be too good?  Because middle class families benefit too much?  No," Obama said.

Obama focused heavily on his support for the middle class, with Romney hitting specific points on the rising gas prices and lowered income middle class Americans have experienced during Obama's four years.

According to CBS News, Romney distorted some of the details of his attack, including his criticism of gas prices (which has been a big topic in the news this week).

The gas prices are now more than twice what they were when Obama took office in 2009, but Consumer Reports said that the 2009 average of $1.85 a gallon was exceptionally low because of the economic crisis. 

No doubt that the vice presidential candidates will at least refer to the gas price issue to highlight their concerns about the other candidate's plans for the middle class.

If Biden's people get their head around some of Romney's distortion, maybe Mr. Gaffe can pull ahead on this issue.

MORE: Pre-VP Debate Breakdown: Ryan Vs. Biden On Domestic Issues

Biden will also prod at Paul Ryan's "radical" Medicare plan, which has been the central issue regarding Romney's pick of Ryan as a running mate. 

Romney's campaign has long attacked Obama for cutting $716 billion from Medicare in order to pay for his healthcare plan, saying that it hurts beneficiaries to the point that "15 percent of hospitals and nursing homes say they won't take anymore Medicare patients under that scenario," Romney said.

According to CBS News's factcheck, Obama's plan primarily cuts from Medicare Advantage plans, hospital reimbursements and in payments to other providers.

The merits of this plan have been disputed by both sides, but perhaps Biden will note that Paul Ryan's 2012 budget would have included the same Medicare reductions as the president's plan, even if Romney said he wouldn't follow Ryan's example on it.

According to NBC Politics, Ryan's plan would gradually increase Medicare eligibility age to 67, which would start in 2023.

He would do away with Medicare's open-ended payments for those born in 1958 and later.

His plan wouldn't apply to current Medicare beneficiaries, but he does want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would take current seniors' additional prescription drug benefits.

The number we heard the most during the first debate was "five trillion."

According to CBS News again, Obama was citing an analysis that said Romney's plan would cost five trillion dollars over a 10-year period.

Romney has refuted the study and Democrats have used it extensively.

It considers Romney's plan to cut income tax rates by 20 percent by reducing tax deductions and credits.

And while Romney has yet to say which deductions and credits he would cut, you can expect Biden to bark about this some more Thursday night, even if the stat didn't help Obama in the first debate.

Many anti-Obama liberals, like members of the Occupy movement, have criticized the president's fetish with drone strikes, but you're not likely to see Paul Ryan (or Mitt Romney) mention it.

Obama has authorized 283 drone strikes in Pakistan, six times more than George W. Bush, according to CNN.

If cornered on war issues, you might see Ryan lash out against the Obama administration with stats on military deaths, since it's been reported that nearly two-thirds of American deaths in Afghanistan have occurred under Obama's administration.

MORE: Vice Presidential Debate Prediction: Don't Expect Fireworks

Biden and Ryan will likely bicker over their campaign promises regarding student loans.

Obama signed a law that will make it easier for college students to pay back their federal college loans when it starts in 2014.

It will make it so recent grads won't have to pay more than 10 percent of their disposable income toward loan payments.

After 20 years, any remaining debt will be forgiven.

Republicans have opposed laws that reduce federal student loans, with Paul Ryan himself authoring the House Republican budget that called for allowing student loan rates to double.

Ryan's plan would also kick one million students off Pell Grants.

Romney, however, supports extending the rate cut for student loans while also embracing Ryan's doubling of loan rates.

Ryan has a chance to make his campaign look sophisticated if he can elucidate the complexity of Romney's plan, but Biden will have a shot to further the narrative against his opposition.


Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of the debates here.

Reach Assistant News Editor Michael Juliani here.

Follow him on Twitter here.



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