During Friday night’s campaign debate, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan squared off to discuss the nation’s problems and how their administration will solve them. Between focusing on complicated foreign policy issues, moderator Martha Raddatz asked about the future of health care in America: “Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive?”
The debate got very heated as each candidate has completely different views about how Medicare should be funded. Ryan began his answer with a strong statement, “Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.” He went on to say how the program has helped his family and how he will honor his promise to keep it funded for future generations. He differs from the Obama administration in that he and Romney want to reform Medicare and take $716 billion currently going to Obamacare and give it back to Medicare. Ryan criticized Obama’s plan to have a board overseeing the health care programs.
Biden shot back by appealing directly to seniors to ask themselves if they have more benefits than before Obama came into office. While avoiding major political gaffes during the debate, Biden delivered clear messages about his views, like when he spoke about Republicans, saying, “Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad, and they eliminate the guarantee of Medicare.”
Most of the rest of the talk about Medicare, comprised of Ryan’ beginning statements and being interrupted by Biden, who disavowed each remark he made. As an experienced debater, that may have been part of Biden’s strategy.
Conversely, Ryan showed his experience with numbers in the many statistics he cited to support his case, but that may have been to his detriment.
One of the last questions Raddatz asked about health care was why Biden did not support slowly raising the retirement age in order to save money on the billions spent on Medicare. To answer this, Biden’s 27-year age difference with Ryan, which is at times a liability to him, seemed to help as he spoke about taking part in a key decision to do the same with Social Security in 1983. With Medicare, he said, he would not take part in a voucher system, which didn’t really answer the question, but brought up another point of difference between the candidates.
Raddatz also asked them to each respond to a question about abortion with care. Ryan stood by his Catholic values, asserting that life begins at conception. “You want to ask why I’m pro-life? It’s not simply because of my Catholic faith,” said Ryan. “That’s a factor of course. But it’s also because of reason and science.”He reiterated how Romney’s plan will make abortions available in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
Biden, also asserting his strong Catholic values, made it clear that those are his values and beliefs and that isn’t always reflective of American ideals as a whole. “I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here,” Biden said. “I do not believe we have a right to tell women that they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor.” He drove his point home by reminding that at least two Supreme Court seats will open up during the next administration, saying Roe v. Wade is “that close.” He assured voters that under an Obama administration they would fill those seats with open-minded individuals without an agenda.
Everyone wants adequate health care, and we believe in this country that everyone should get it, whether or not they can pay for it. The question is how to go about doing this fairly and without bankrupting the nation. This debate brought up many issues that the average voter probably will have little knowledge of, but by getting to the fundamentals of what each party believes, voters can reasonably pick the candidates who will protect their best interests, including the issue of health care.
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