The conventional wisdom is that Paul Ryan being an awesome wonk will crush the "gaff-machine" Biden. I disagree, never count out a skilled politician and orator.
Here we go....
Segment 1: Libya. was the embassy attack, which is now confirmed (duh!?!??) a pre-planned attack a massive intelligence failure?
Arkady: There is a loaded question!
Biden: Skilfully pivoted, did not answer the question and blasted Romney as a war monger while highlighting how great Obama was at handling our existing wars. If Ryan is good, he should skewer him on this non-answer.
Ryan: Probably as good as its going to get, humiliating Obama on the stupidity of mentioning the YouTube video is important because Libya continues to be a cover-up. It a short-lived cover-up, but that is what it was. When the Obama administration through Rice and Clinton spent days convincing us that attacking Islam through videos caused the death of our ambassador they were taking a massive gamble. This gamble backfired, it is still unclear why they chose this path considering they knew within 24 hours it was an obvious terror attack. The rest of the time Ryan spent reciting the usual Republican talking point about projecting strength. This is no doubt a double down on the idea that Romney wants to spend more and more on our military.
Biden: "What Ryan just said was a bunch of malarkey". Hah, good 'ol Joe.
Biden: "These guys bet against America all the time". After stuttering for quite some time. Hard to defend a cover-up. :( He has to continue to pivot, trying to answer this question is impossible without looking stupid.
Moderator: "Should America apologize for burning Korans or urinating on corpses?"
Ryan: "Yes on the peeing, whatever on the Koran". I am paraphrasing :)
Moderator: "There is no bigger issue of national security than Iran".
Arkady: What the hell? Says who???
Ryan: "Sanctions are not effective because Iran is closer to the bomb now". I disagree, sanctions are quite effective and that can be seen through Iran's hyper-inflation. They are experiencing 70% month-over-month inflation because they are printing money to get their means accomplished. In fact, it is possible that the sanctions are actually promoting Iranians to get the bomb faster. Somehow Ryan asserts that we need to do this peacefully yet endorses economically crippling sanctions? How is that any different than act of war?
Biden: "These are the most crippling sanctions ever!". According to material I have seen, I think Biden is correct. They certainly could be harsher, but the 70% inflation is proof positive that the sanctions are hurting.
Biden: "Iranians see a currency and economy in free-fall". Yup, yup.
Ryan: "Sanctions are watered down and they are closer to the weapon". Biden sounds more convincing here and Ryan is just repeating the same thing over and over.
Arkady: OK, I am tired of this back and forth. They are just arguing over whose sanctions are more effective. The policy is essentially the same, the difference being the severity. Whatever happened to the whole Libya question?
Segment 2: State of our economy, number one is jobs. The Obama administration projected a below 6% unemployment by this time this year. Level with the public, can we get unemployment below 6%?
Arkady: Who is writing these questions!? I love them.
Biden: "Sure we can!" After briefly talking about success of Obama he goes on to eviscerate Romney and Ryan even bringing up Romney's infamous 47% comment. Very forceful, but then yaps on and on and on about the tired old class warfare rhetoric.
Ryan: "We are heading in the wrong direction" "Our economy is slow". What the hell Paul? here is your chance to talk about labor participation rate!! Destroy the headline number and expose the truth about the idiotic U-3 number. COME ON. This is such a golden opportunity.
Ryan: "Regarding that quote [Mitt], the VP knows that sometimes the words do not come out the right way". I bet you 100 bucks right now that this quote was practiced in advance. This was supposed to be a zinger and it may very well be regarded as such. I expect clips and Facebook posters of this. The crowd laughed out loud and even Biden smiled. Nicely done, but not talking about the participation rate is demented.
Biden: "Romney wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt". Yeah Joe, this is what the free market does, it forces companies to fail. Instead you and Obama claim to take care of people by using tens of billions of OUR money. This is intellectual dishonesty at its finest. It is easy to spew populist rhetoric when you are using someone else's money to save an industry, much harder to make correct economic claims.
Biden: "Ryan is a big spender". Yes he is Vice President Biden, but so are you.
Ryan: Brought up early projections from Romer and pointed out that the stimulus did nothing, but feed special interests. True.
Moderator: "When can you get the rate below 6?"
Ryan: "Our plan is to grow the economy at 4%". Why? That is not their job. NOT THEIR JOB.
Biden: "Our stimulus worked."
Ryan: "No it did not".
Segment 3: Medicare: Medicare and SS are going broke. Will benefits have to change for the programs to survive?
Ryan: Absolutely! "SS and Medicare were there for our families, we must reform it to keep it". I believe him and I know he wants to keep the programs. His budget proves it too. The whole Obama story of Ryan throwing granny off the cliff is bogus propaganda. Unfortunately when you have the most "fiscally conservative Republican evaaaahhh" saying this crap it makes one wonder. What has the opposition become? It is not about reforming, it is about subsidizing! Forget SS for a moment. Medicaid is EVIL and Medicare is EVIL-light. It jacks up costs for every single person, it is an utterly flawed concept.
Ryan: "Obama wants to cut 700+B to Medicare."
Biden: "AMA and AARP endorsed what we did". No shit sherlock. Why would they ever oppose more Government spending since they are the leading recipient.
Biden: "We will not privatize SS, imagine if we did that now under Bush". Considering that the SS fund makes close to nothing and is probably being crushed now with Ben Shalom's
Ryan: "100% coverage for those seniors who cannot afford it".
Arkady: Biden is annoying. Laughing every time Ryan says anything, how frustrating. I am guessing he is uncomfortable.
Biden: "We will not stand for vouchers or privatizing, period."
Ryan: "Vouchers are receiving a check in your mail box, we are not doing that". That is true, Ryan's plan is not a pure voucher system at all. It is premium support and works differently.
Biden: "Come on folks, use your common sense on this, who are you going to trust". This is such a lame and bogus appeal that I cannot believe he is using it. Ryan at least is throwing some numbers around, Biden is basically throwing a populist hail mary. Ryan is looking at him with a disapproving smile and large puppy dog eyes. What a scene.
Segment 4: Who will pay more and who will pay less in taxes?
Biden: "Middle class will pay less, those making 200k more will pay slightly more". Predictable, although I fail to see how the middle class will pay less with ObamaCare taxes. Ryan should pounce on this.
Biden: "Republicans are holding hostage the middle class". Love the fear mongering. Class ware at its finest. Joe is good!!
Ryan: "Our plan is estimated to create 7 million jobs". Give me a break, these studies mean absolute shit. This assumes economic development that is entirely unrelated to tax breaks. You can fudge these numbers all day long, but Romney already said that revenues will NOT decrease. Therefore the tax reform plan takes away just as much money out of the private sector as it does now. This in turn means that Romney/Ryan tax plan has nothing to do with economic recovery, they are just hoping it will snap back. I do not expect Biden to seize on this, but it is what it is.
Ryan: "There is not enough rich people to pay for the deficit". True, true. Too bad Romney can only come up with PBS as meaningful spending cuts. Woe is me.
Moderator: "Do you have specifics on your 20% tax cuts or not?"
Ryan: "We are lowering the rates and broadening the base". Exactly what Romney said, close loop holes. Keep revenue intact. *yawn*. "Look at what Reagan did".
Arkady: Under Reagan more people paid more tax and the Feds collected more money in the long run". Wish the GOP would stop worshiping Reagan at every opportunity.
Arkady: Oh shit, we almost had another Jack Kennedy moment! Oooh so close.
Arkady: They just spent 5 minutes bickering over which tax loop holes to close. This is very sad because tax loop holes create massive economic distortions and according to both Biden and Ryan these are very important. We are so far from real tax reform it is not even funny folks.
Segment 5: Defense
Moderator: "lets talk about defense, but put the automatic defense cuts aside, nobody wants that".
Arkady: Um, excuse me!? Those auto cuts were part of a debt negotiation deal. That was the whole fucking point! No compromise, auto cuts. When that deal was formed, I wrote way back then that the Republicans would back track on that promise. Here we go.
Ryan: "Don't cut the military by a trillion dollars, our navy will be smallest since WW1". Earth to Ryan, we are spending 800B on defense. I don't care how big the Navy is going to be. There is a serious problem with defense spending. Audit the pentagon NOW.
Biden: "The sequester was part of the deal". Damn it, stop agreeing with me Joe, you are making me look bad. Or is it the other way around?
Arkady: Ryan has very nice hair.
Biden: "We do not need more tanks". He is CORRECT! Rand Paul is one of the few that got this right. Ryan is sooo wrong.
Segment 6: Afghanistan: We reached Afghani recruiting goals, why not leave now?
Ryan: "We do not want to lose the gains we have gotten". This has been the longest war in American history. Is this a joke? Watch Joe agree with me again here.
Biden: "We went to get AQ and decimated AQ-central, that was our purpose, we are leaving in 2 years, period". Hard to argue with that, very hard. Ryan will try though.
Ryan: "We agree with 2014, but we need to accommodate our commanders". Frankly, I have no idea what he means. I am skeptical.
Biden: "The only way to inspire responsibility is to stop helping Baghdad and Kabul". How odd, so doing things for other people breeds laziness? Well how interesting!!!
Arkady: They are now arguing over fighting seasons. How come it fails to dawn on both of them that after 10 years we are STILL fighting counter-insurgents. That means in two years this same fighting will continue. This will never end. Pull them out tomorrow. Christ!
Segment 7: Civil war in Syria: Why not going into Syria and prevent a massacre?
Biden: "Because Syria is large and we might destabilize the region". Hmm, that is one perspective. How about; we cannot afford it?
Ryan: "Nobody is proposing to send American troops to Syria". Really???
Moderator: "What is your criteria for intervention"
Ryan: "Strategic national interest for our country". Broad answer that does not mean much. Iraq was hardly a national interest.
Segment 8: What role has your religion played on abortion.
Arkady: Shoot me.
Ryan: "I am pro-life because of reason and science, not just religion". "Life begins at conception". That seems..contradictory. But I am not even touching this annoying damn issue. Completely and utterly distracting from serious federal issues.
Ryan: "Democrats support abortions for everyone and even want to use federal money to support it". I am glad Ryan brought that up, because paying for someone else's abortion is precisely where this matter ends being a religious matter and starts being an economic one. Subsidizing someone's reckless sexual practice is not the job of the taxpayer. Period.
Biden: "Not going to tell a woman what she can do with her body". That is a standard answer, fine, he did not address taxpayer money providing abortions. He could not, his base would eat him alive.
Moderator: "Should those who believe abortions be legal, be worried".
Ryan: "We do not believe that laws should be made by the court". Ahh, digging up the Roe v. Wade debate.
Biden: "Roe v. Wade is very close to going down".
Arkady: What chance is there that SCOTUS will take up Roe v. Wade? Realistically speaking, why would they? But assume they do, assume they overturn it. So what? So abortion finally becomes a state issue. We should all be happy as we can now reside in States that either protect or deny abortions. Let States sort it out. No longer would it ever be a Federal issue, that would be wonderful. Would it suck for those living in Alabama? Yes, but they can move.
Segment 9: This campaign has gotten very dirty, what would you say about that?
Biden: "Do Romney/Ryan have the conviction to raise the middle class". Fighting words Joe, because there is absolutely nothing whatsoever has Obama or Biden have done to help the middle class. Stimulus, Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare are all awful legislation for the middle class. That requires economic analysis though and Biden does not care about that.
Ryan: Ryan just machine gunned facts and numbers blowing away Obama's promises, that I cannot verify at this time. It sounds so convincing that this being at the closing end of the argument are sure to be effective with the public. The wonk at work, rather impressive.
Biden: The budget that Ryan/Romney have proposed is going to devastate the middle class.
Arkady: Not true, Ryan budget as examined earlier on this blog will hardly touch anything other than Medicaid. Even then Medicaid spending resumes in about 7 years. Ryan is no cutter, either is Romney.
Ryan: "That is not true, we are spending at 3 % and you at 4.5%". LOL. OK, then. At least you admit it.
Segment 10: What makes you so unique?
Ryan: "We are going to have a 5 point economic plan to create 12 million jobs". Whatever.
Biden: "I am all about leveling the playing field". Indeed, by making everyone poorer. Good plan. Worked out nicely for Cuba, N. Korea, Soviet Union...oh wait, no it did not.
Biden: "Bush's fault". "Ryan and Romney are jerks" "Ryan says 30% are takers". "I won't rest until the field is leveled". What the fuck?
Ryan: "What kind of country are we going to give our kids? Obama's plan is not working!!! Our ideas are better. Romney is uniquely qualified. The choice is clear. Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs". Spending and high taxes do not work when the Democrats do it, but it works when the Republicans do it.
Conclusion: This debate appears to be much closer than the first Romney/Obama debate. Biden is skilled at deflecting and laughing at everything Ryan said. This will give the illusion and perception that Ryan never had the advantage. I think both sides will claim victories tonight and I doubt a clear winner will be chosen. I think Ryan handled himself better and the wonky numbers were impressed. Biden's class warfare will resonate.