Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Biden vs. Ryan: Previewing the VP debate

Vice President Joe Biden squares off Thursday in a debate with opponent Paul Ryan.
Vice President Joe Biden squares off Thursday in a debate with opponent Paul Ryan.

Will a single quip turn the Danville debate in favor of Vice President Joe Biden or challenger Paul Ryan? Or will one of the vice presidential nominees simply marshal more facts in his favor over 90 minutes?

If facts win the night, what is the best ammunition for the two men?

Maybe one of these 12 PolitiFact-tested claims from our Truth-O-Meter files on Ryan and Biden will play a key role.

Medicare

Biden could resurrect his 2011 claim that Ryan’s budget proposal "eliminates Medicare" in 10 years. We rated that False, but noted Ryan’s plan changes Medicare dramatically.

Or the VP could repeat President Obama’s 2012 charge that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Ryan "want to turn Medicare into a voucher system."

PolitiFact National called that Mostly True, saying Ryan’s latest plan -- basically endorsed by Romney -- gives beneficiaries under 55 a payment they could use toward private insurance or for a plan akin to traditional Medicare.

For Ryan’s part, he could try again with his claim that Obama "funneled" $716 billion out of Medicare "at the expense of the elderly."

PolitiFact National rated that Mostly False, saying it was exaggerated and very misleading. The figure represents savings lawmakers hope to wring from the program by limiting payments to health care providers and insurers.

The Wisconsin congressman could defend his plan by saying it "does not affect" benefits for anyone 55 or older. PolitiFact Florida rated that Half True this year: partially accurate but it ignores the GOP ticket’s call for repeal of Obama’s health care law, which offered new benefits for current Medicare enrollees.

Taxes

Whose ox gets gored by whose plan?

Biden claimed at a Green Bay, Wis., rally in September 2012 that "$500 billion of the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy goes to 120,000 families." Romney and Ryan want to extend the Bush-era tax cuts that expire after 2012, while Obama would do so for income below $250,000.

We found Biden’s claim Mostly True based on four expert sources who said it was in that range.

Ryan might counter, as he did in 2011, that Obama wants to raise "the top rate to 44.8 percent." PolitiFact National found Ryan’s statement Mostly True after piecing together various parts of Obama’s tax agenda.

Women’s Issues

If Biden seeks to highlight Ryan’s views on abortion, he might channel Obama’s 2012 claim that Ryan "supports banning all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest."

We rated that Half True, noting that while Ryan does oppose those exceptions, Ryan does not support banning "all" abortions. In some cases, he has supported an exception for when a mother’s life is at stake.

Ryan could bring up a talking point that Romney has used to try to cut into Obama’s lead among women. Romney said this year that "women account for 92.3 percent of the jobs lost under Obama."

He could do that, but it’s Mostly False, PolitiFact National found, saying the figure was technically accurate but quite misleading.

Potpourri

What else could pop up? Here’s a quick run-through.

-- Obama "has doubled the size of government since he took office." That Ryan claim earned a Pants on Fire from PolitiFact National in April 2012.

-- "Congressman Ryan put forward a plan that would let Governor Romney pay less than 1 percent in taxes each year." PolitiFact New Hampshire rated Mostly True that claim from Obama in August 2012.

-- Based on the August 2012 nation jobs numbers, "for every person who got a job, nearly four people stopped looking for a job." Politifact Wisconsin gave that Ryan statement a Mostly True in September 2012.

-- Ryan’s budget would "effectively double the interest paid out on existing and future student loans." That statement by a New Jersey Democrat was rated Mostly False in May 2012 by PolitiFact New Jersey.