Tonight we got to witness a great debate between two Irishmen looking to be the Vice President. Not shying away from a good fight, Biden came out swinging, and didn't disappoint. Aside from Biden's authenticity and passion, his 30 years of experience made the sophomoric Paul Ryan look like a schoolboy. When Ryan offered his opinions du jour handed down from Romney's pollsters, Biden came back with real, substantive answers. Paul Ryan knows the myth of Ronald Reagan and bipartisanship. Joe Biden was actually a participant in the negotiations back in the early 1980's that saved Social Security. Whereas Ryan would utter vague notions about how to deal with the war in Afghanistan, Biden shared his experiences actually travelling dozens of times through the war torn area, meeting with troops and the people. The entire thing was frankly uncomfortable to watch, given the beating Ryan was taking. It must have been uncomfortable to see him slither away at the end.
The strength of Biden here was that he exposed Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney for what they truly are--puppets for the ultra rich and the corporations. He called out their lies and their bullshit. He hammered Ryan for not being specific about his "tax plan" that is nothing more than a massive subsidy to the rich. Ryan is considered a fiscal policy wonk by many on the Right. Biden challenged him and exposed Romney and his "plan" for what it is--nothing more than hot air. The formula is transparent--first they describe how bad things are--this part is true, and gives them perceived credibility. Then, they move in for a massive criticism of Obama, refusing to accept their share of the responsibility for the problem (Ryan voted to block Obama's jobs bill, tax reforms for the middle class, etc.). They finish up without offering any real solutions, other than the tired old mantra of trickle down economics, the same policies of George W. Bush that tripled the deficit and caused the meltdown of the economy.
Everyone knows where Paul Ryan's heart lies when it comes to Medicare and programs for the poor--he is hell bent on ending them. His proposed voucher program for Medicare would utterly destroy the program. His proposed budget makes massive cuts to programs that keep poor children from going hungry. This is consistent with Ryan's Ayn Rand worldview. His budget proposals are so savage, so heartless, that a group of nuns actually commissioned a bus to travel around America to describe the real impacts his proposals would have for the poor. These nuns should know--Catholic social programs help many poor and disadvantaged Americans, and some of these funds come from federal spending.
Ryan's only strength was his answer on the pro-life issue at the very end. Biden said that he believed that life begins at conception but was opposed to the law being changed. If you believe that life begins at conception, it isn't morally consistent to advocate laws which go against this principle. Ryan was right to challenge Biden on this, and held him to task for not standing by his principles. The truth is, a Catholic voter has nowhere to turn in good conscience. Democrats support legalized abortion. Republicans support cutting vital heating, food, and other assistance to the poor and needy. Millions of children will go hungry if food stamp programs are further reduced by the Republicans. So there is no easy answer for the Catholic voter. I believe the Democratic policy of providing everyone a fair shake, and assistance for those most in need. I believe this will lead to more options for poor, young women, rather than abortion. That's why the rate of actual abortions go down during Democratic presidencies and go up during Republican ones. Just telling a woman she cannot get an abortion doesn't help her be a good mother. It doesn't help her feed her children or care for them. We need to do more than just make abortion illegal. We need to build a pro-life culture in all areas.
Words are great. They can inspire, leads us to imagine, and bring us hope. But looking at the records of the two men, we see some stark differences. Joe Biden has spent his career standing up for middle class people and supporting working people. He has not voted to destroy Medicare and Social Security. Paul Ryan, on the other hand, is a true believer in the philosophy of "every man for himself." His budget proposals were so merciless, so heartless, that the Romney campaign won't even talk about them now. His voucher program for Medicare would end the program by privatizing it, based on a ridiculous notion that insurance companies are going to compete for seniors and disabled people. Why they would compete to pay out huge amounts for medical care defies all logic. No company competes to lose money. For someone supposedly gifted in the area of economics, Ryan falls flat on this one. The truth is that he just wants Medicare to be wiped out and that's it.
Biden has proven his worth as a Vice President. His vast years of experience in the Senate has proven to be a great asset to President Obama. He has been a source of wise counsel to him. Is he gaffe prone? You bet. But we also know his heart, which is good. He is trustworthy and competent. If something were to happen, I believe we would be safe with him at the helm. I greatly fear for the poor and impoverished if Paul Ryan were to become President. Listening to him, I don't get the impression that he has true compassion for others. He comes across to me as being heartless. Romney's choice in Paul Ryan speaks to his character as well--Romney is fundamentally a man who doesn't give a damn about the poor.