Still Undecided? Let Joe Help You Out

by Ana Moreno

After watching the Vice Presidential Debate last night, with Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan, I think that all Democrats can finally stop holding their breaths and let out a sigh of relief . After the presidential debate last week, we can agree that we were, to put it lightly, a bit underwhelmed by the President Obama’s performance. The game has changed once again. Right off the bat, we were able to discern that both VP candidates were ready to duel it out. But, Joe Biden has shown some swing and was able to deliver the home run we needed to get the Democratic base energized once again.

This debate was significantly different from the last. It was more intimate, the topics were a lot less broad, and there was a great focus on foreign policy. Martha Raddatz was a much better moderator and did not let herself get thrashed by the nominees unlike her male counterpart in last week’s debate, Jim Lehrer. To begin the debate, Raddatz asked both Biden and Ryan about the attack on the consulate in Benghazi. I have to admit that I felt that, at this point, Biden had still to get his sea legs. But shortly after the start of the debate, we began to see Biden’s smile appear, and that was the signal that the fight was really on. Biden was not afraid to point out when Ryan was lying. He would interrupt and stop lies as they came out of the Congressman’s mouth. One of my favorite moments (and there were many), had to be when Raddatz asked how the Romney campaign was going to pay for the 20 percent tax cuts that they were proposing. Here is the transcript:

MS. RADDATZ: You have refused yet again to offer specifics on how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Do you actually have the specifics, or are you still working on it, and that’s why you won’t tell voters?

REP. RYAN: Different than this administration, we actually want to have big bipartisan agreements. You see, I understand the —

MS. RADDATZ: Do you have the specifics? Do you have the math? Do you know exactly what you’re doing?

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: That’ll be — that’d be a first for the Republican Congress.

REP. RYAN: Look — look at what Mitt — look at what Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did. They worked together out of a framework to lower tax rates and broaden the base, and they worked together to fix that. What we’re saying is here’s our framework: Lower tax rates 20 percent — we raise about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forgo about 1.1 trillion (dollars) 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 —

That’s nice language that Congressman Ryan used, however the question was not answered and no specifics about his plan were given. I don’t know how they plan to significantly cut taxes, claim that it will not affect the deficit, and yet refuse to give evidence that they can pull it off. Countless reports, including one by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, have proven it to be impossible to achieve. The arithmetic just doesn’t work. But, after touting this plan for the past year, you would think that the Romney campaign has a bone to throw to the public besides cutting Big Bird. But I digress, that argument has been beaten down with a stick by the President.

Biden reaffirmed the President’s commitment to extend the middle class tax cuts while letting the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy expire. He also mentioned how toxic the atmosphere is in Congress, where Republicans will contradict everything the President proposes even though it will help millions of Americans.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: They’re pushing the continuation of a tax cut that will give an additional $500 billion in tax cuts to 120,000 families. And they’re holding hostage the middle-class tax cut because they say, we won’t pass — we won’t continue the middle-class tax cut unless you give the tax cut for the super wealthy. It’s about time they take some responsibility.

We really got to see Biden defending the President’s campaign and even brought out the big 47% guns. After being asked how long it would take the administration to bring the unemployment rate below 6 percent, he began by explaining where we were when President Obama took office. The economy was in free fall, the Great Recession hit, 9 million people lost their jobs, so we were in a deep hole. When the President took office he took action that was much needed when Detroit needed help. When the GM bailout was in the works, Romney wrote in an article that we should “let it go bankrupt”. After home owners saw their homes go underwater through no fault of their own, the President was hard at work trying to help people refinance their house. Romney said “let foreclosure hit the bottom”. But as Biden noted “it shouldn’t be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives”. Biden also went after comments made by Ryan, referring to him as “a Vice Presidential Candidate who recently, in a speech in Washington, said 30% of the American people are takers.” At this point if you didn’t think Joe was doing well before, you would agree he was now on FIRE.

A topic close to my heart is that of Abortion Rights and no debate would be complete without a little controversy. Raddatz asked Biden and Ryan what role their religion played in their stance on abortion, and though they are both Catholics, their responses could not have been further apart. Ryan’s response was:

“Now, I understand this is a difficult issue. And I respect people who don’t agree with me on this. But the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortion with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.”

On Tuesday, Romney told the Des Moines Register that no abortion legislation would be pursued if elected President, a statement that had to be walked back. Now his prospective VP is saying that all abortion should be banned with exceptions only to rape, incest, and the health of the mother. This is a problem we see the Romney campaign having an awful lot.. they can’t make up their minds. But O.K. Let’s accept these new truths that Ryan wants to spew at us. How can a man decide what he sees is best for women? Shouldn’t women who know their history, their conditions, and themselves, be able to decide what option will be best for her situation? How can we impose such an important decision on women just because the government says it is ethically correct? This topic is amusing to me because the same people that condemn abortions are almost always those who want to limit access to contraception. The only way to reduce abortions is to make sure that every woman is educated in her decisions, and is able to have access to other options. I refuse to accept the notion that women get abortions willy nilly and just say “Oops, I’m pregnant. Let me just run to the doctor’s office really quickly and have an abortion.” No. This is a battle within a woman herself, and a decision that comes after much thought. However, if women had more options, I can assure you that abortion would be the least used method.

To this same question Biden responded:

“I accept my church’s position on abortion as a — what we call de fide doctrine. Life begins at conception. That’s the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.

But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and — I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman.

I — I do not believe that — that we have a right to tell other people that women, they — they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor, in my view. And the Supreme Court — I’m not going to interfere with that.

Now I wonder which one of those answers sound more like limited government? Republicans tell you how they want government to be as small as possible, but when it comes to getting into a woman’s reproductive health, they want the government all over it. This brings me to the question; do Republicans believe women lack the intelligence to make educated decisions? Are we second class citizens that need the guidance of others to decide what is best for our bodies? Are we children? I think that you guys can guess my answers to those questions, but I want to leave them to other women to respond for themselves.

Now for the results of the post-debate polls, which key on the most important thing; people’s perception of the debate. The “key instant” poll by CBS had Biden on top 50 to 31% and with 19% saying it was a tie. The CNN poll of registered voters had Ryan on top 48 to 44%. This may be because there was a small sample size that leaned more Republican 33 percent to 31%. That actually stands at odds with the nation’s average where there are more Democrats than Republicans. Through these distinctions, we found that the margin of error for that result is higher. Now here is my opinion, I felt Biden won not only the battle of appearances, but also the battle for substance. I felt that he was truly frank with the American people, and was not going to take any lies from the other side. We only wish Obama would have taken that stance as well. After Biden’s performance, I hope some of the undecided voters are able to make up their minds. However, I assume the chances are small since there are still two more debates to go in order to persuade voters. The time to make the decision of who to vote for is narrowing down, and thank goodness we have forces like Joe Biden to influence those who are still undecided.

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