Morning After the Night Before Open Thread and 2012 VP Debate Transcript Part 1
Who knows what effect last night’s VP debate will have once the spin dies down? But if it doesn’t cheer up Democrats and address any lingering enthusiasm gap, I’ve no idea what will.
The MSM and Romney camp spinners (spot the difference), of course, are hard at work claiming that Ryan “won,” that Biden’s a loon just laughing at serious issues, OH! THE INCIVILITY!!!!!, it was a “tactical draw,” or on occasion coming to the conclusion that Joe Biden’s a force of nature you underestimate at your peril, and Paul Ryan’s still wet behind the ears and various other places despite his years in Congress.
For those who missed the debate or are embroiled in discussions and arguments about it elsewhere, there’s a transcript after the fold. It’s too long for our blogware to handle in one post, so above you’ll see Part 2, on which comments are disabled.
REP. PAUL D. RYAN, R-WIS., VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE,
AND VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR. PARTICIPATE IN A
CANDIDATES DEBATE, DANVILLE, KENTUCKY
OCTOBER 11, 2012
SPEAKERS: VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
REP. PAUL D. RYAN, R-WIS.
MARTHA RADDATZ, MODERATOR
RADDATZ: Good evening, and welcome to the first and only vice presidential debate of 2012, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. I’m Martha Raddatz of ABC News, and I am honored to moderate this debate between two men who have dedicated much of their lives to public service.
Tonight’s debate is divided between domestic and foreign policy issues. And I’m going to move back and forth between foreign and domestic, since that is what a vice president or president would have to do. We will have nine different segments. At the beginning of each segment, I will ask both candidates a question, and they will each have two minutes to answer. Then I will encourage a discussion between the candidates with follow-up questions.
By coin toss, it has been determined that Vice President Biden will be first to answer the opening question. We have a wonderful audience here at Centre College tonight. You will no doubt hear their enthusiasm at the end of the debate—and right now, as we welcome Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan.
OK, you got your little wave to the families in. It’s great. Good evening, gentlemen. It really is an honor to be here with both of you.
I would like to begin with Libya. On a rather somber note, one month ago tonight, on the anniversary of 9/11, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi. The State Department has now made clear, there were no protesters there.
RADDATZ: it was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men. Wasn’t this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: What is was, it was a tragedy, Martha. It—Chris Stevens was one of our best. We lost three other brave Americans.
I can make absolutely two commitments to you and all the American people tonight. One, we will find and bring to justice the men who did this. And secondly, we will get to the bottom of it, and whatever—wherever the facts lead us, wherever they lead us, we will make clear to the American public, because whatever mistakes were made will not be made again.
When you’re looking at a president, Martha, it seems to me that you should take a look at his most important responsibility. That’s caring for the national security of the country. And the best way to do that is take a look at how he’s handled the issues of the day.
On Iraq, the president said he would end the war. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000—he ended it. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000 troops there.
With regard to Afghanistan, he said he will end the war in 2014. Governor Romney said we should not set a date, number one. And number two, with regard to 2014, it depends.
When it came to Osama bin Laden, the president the first day in office, I was sitting with him in the Oval Office, he called in the CIA and signed an order saying, “My highest priority is to get bin Laden.”
Prior to the election, prior to the—him being sworn in, Governor Romney was asked the question about how he would proceed. He said, “I wouldn’t move heaven and earth to get bin Laden.” He didn’t understand it was more than about taking a murderer off the battlefield. It was about restoring America’s heart and letting terrorists around the world know, if you do harm to America, we will track you to the gates of hell if need be.
And lastly, the president of the United States has—has led with a steady hand and clear vision. Governor Romney, the opposite. The last thing we need now is another war.
RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan?
RYAN: We mourn the loss of these four Americans who were murdered.
RYAN: When you take a look at what has happened just in the last few weeks, they sent the U.N. ambassador out to say that this was because of a protest and a YouTube video. It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack.
He went to the U.N. and in his speech at the U.N. he said six times—he talked about the YouTube video.
Look, if we’re hit by terrorists we’re going to call it for what it is, a terrorist attack. Our ambassador in Paris has a Marine detachment guarding him. Shouldn’t we have a Marine detachment guarding our ambassador in Benghazi, a place where we knew that there was an Al Qaida cell with arms?
This is becoming more troubling by the day. They first blamed the YouTube video. Now they’re trying to blame the Romney-Ryan ticket for making this an issue.
With respect to Iraq, we had the same position before the withdrawal, which was we agreed with the Obama administration. Let’s have a status of forces agreement to make sure that we secure our gains. The vice president was put in charge of those negotiations by President Obama and they failed to get the agreement. We don’t have a status of forces agreement because they failed to get one. That’s what we are talking about.
Now, when it comes to our veterans, we owe them a great debt of gratitude for what they’ve done for us, including your son Beau. But we also want to make sure that we don’t lose the things we fought so hard to get.
Now, with respect to Afghanistan, the 2014 deadline, we agree with a 2014 transition. But what we also want it do is make sure that we’re not projecting weakness abroad, and that’s what’s happening here.
RYAN: This Benghazi issue would be a tragedy in and of itself, but unfortunately it’s indicative of a broader problem. And that is what we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy, which is making the (inaudible) more chaotic us less safe.
RADDATZ: I just want to you about right in the middle of the crisis. Governor Romney, and you’re talking about this again tonight, talked about the weakness; talked about apologies from the Obama administration. Was that really appropriate right in the middle of the crisis?
RYAN: On that same day, the Obama administration had the exact same position. Let’s recall that they disavowed their own statement that they had put out earlier in the day in Cairo. So we had the same position, but we will—it’s never too early to speak out for our values.
We should have spoken out right away when the green revolution was up and starting; when the mullahs in Iran were attacking their people. We should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer when he was turning his Russian-provided guns on his own people. We should always stand up for peace, for democracy, for individual rights.
And we should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts, because what that does when we equivocate on our values, when we show that we’re cutting down on defense, it makes us more weak. It projects weakness. And when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us. They’re more brazen in their attacks, and are allies are less willing to…
BIDEN: With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey.
RADDATZ: And why is that so?
BIDEN: Because not a single thing he said is accurate. First of all…
RADDATZ: Be specific.
BIDEN: I will be very specific. Number one, the—this lecture on embassy security—the congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for, number one. So much for the embassy security piece.
Number two, Governor Romney, before he knew the facts, before he even knew that our ambassador was killed, he was out making a political statement which was panned by the media around the world. And this talk about this—this weakness. I—I don’t understand what my friend’s talking about here.
We—this is a president who’s gone out and done everything he has said he was going to do. This is a guy who’s repaired our alliances so the rest of the world follows us again. This is the guy who brought the entire world, including Russia and China, to bring about the most devastating—most devastating—the most devastating efforts on Iran to make sure that they in fact stop (inaudible).
Look, I—I just—I mean, these guys bet against America all the time.
RADDATZ: Can we talk—let me go back to Libya.
BIDEN: Yeah, sure.
RADDATZ: What were you first told about the attack? Why—why were people talking about protests? When people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters. Why did that go on (inaudible)?
BIDEN: Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment. That’s why there’s also an investigation headed by Tom Pickering, a leading diplomat from the Reagan years, who is doing an investigation as to whether or not there are any lapses, what the lapses were, so that they will never happen again.
RADDATZ: And they wanted more security there.
BIDEN: Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again. And by the way, at the time we were told exactly—we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew. That was the assessment. And as the intelligence community changed their view, we made it clear they changed their view.
That’s why I said we will get to the bottom of this. You know, usually when there’s a crisis, we pull together. We pull together as a nation. But as I said, even before we knew what happened to the ambassador, the governor was holding a press conference—was holding a press conference. That’s not presidential leadership.
RADDATZ: Mr. Ryan, I want to ask you about—the Romney campaign talks a lot about no apologies. He has a book called called “No Apologies.” Should the U.S. have apologized for Americans burning Korans in Afghanistan? Should the U.S. apologize for U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban corpses?
RYAN: Oh, gosh, yes. Urinating on Taliban corpses? What we should not apologize for…
RADDATZ: Burning Korans, immediately?
RYAN: What—what we should not be apologizing for are standing up for our values. What we should not be doing is saying to the Egyptian people, while Mubarak is cracking down on them, that he’s a good guy and, in the next week, say he ought to go.
What we should not be doing is rejecting claims for—for calls for more security in our barracks, in our Marine—we need Marines in Benghazi when the commander on the ground says we need more forces for security. There were requests for extra security; those requests were not honored.
Look, this was the anniversary of 9/11. It was Libya, a country we knew we had Al Qaida cells there, as we know Al Qaida and its affiliates are on the rise in Northern Africa. And we did not give our ambassador in Benghazi a Marine detachment?
Of course there’s an investigation, so we can make sure that this never happens again, but when it comes to speaking up for our values, we should not apologize for those. Here’s the problem. Look at all the various issues out there, and it’s unraveling before our eyes. The vice president talks about sanctions on Iran. They got—we’ve had four…
RADDATZ: Let’s move to Iran. I’d actually like to move to Iran, because there’s really no bigger national security…
RADDATZ: ... this country is facing. Both President Obama and Governor Romney have said they will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, even if that means military action. Last week, former Defense Secretary Bob Gates said a strike on Iran’s facilities would not work and, quote, “could prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations.” Can the two of you be absolutely clear and specific to the American people how effective would a military strike be? Congressman Ryan?
RYAN: We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability. Now, let’s take a look at where we’ve gone—come from. When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material—nuclear material to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They’re racing toward a nuclear weapon. They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.
We’ve had four different sanctions, the U.N. on Iran, three from the Bush administration, one here. And the only reason we got it is because Russia watered it down and prevented the—the sanctions from hitting the central bank.
Mitt Romney proposed these sanctions in 2007. In Congress, I’ve been fighting for these sanctions since 2009. The administration was blocking us every step of the way. Only because we had strong bipartisan support for these tough sanctions were we able to overrule their objections and put them in spite of the administration.
Imagine what would have happened if we had these sanctions in place earlier. You think Iran’s not brazen? Look at what they’re doing. They’re stepping up their terrorist attacks. They tried a terrorist attack in the United States last year when they tried to blow up the Saudi ambassador at a restaurant in Washington, D.C.
And talk about credibility? When this administration says that all options are on the table, they send out senior administration officials that send all these mixed signals.
And so, in order to solve this peacefully—which is everybody’s goal—you have to have the ayatollahs change their minds. Look at where they are. They’re moving faster toward a nuclear weapon. It’s because this administration has no credibility on this issue. It’s because this administration watered down sanctions, delayed sanctions, tried to stop us for putting the tough sanctions in place.
Now we have them in place because of Congress. They say the military option’s on the table, but it’s not being viewed as credible. And the key is to do this peacefully, is to make sure that we have credibility. Under a Romney administration, we will have credibility on this issue.
RADDATZ: Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: It’s incredible. Look, imagine had we let the Republican Congress work out the sanctions. You think there’s any possibility the entire world would have joined us, Russia and China, all of our allies? These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions, period. Period.
When Governor Romney’s asked about it, he said, “We gotta keep these sanctions.” When he said, “Well, you’re talking about doing more,” what are you—you’re going to go to war? Is that what you want to do?
RYAN: We want to prevent war.
BIDEN: And the interesting thing is, how are they going to prevent war? How are they going to prevent war if they say there’s nothing more that we—that they say we should do than what we’ve already done, number one.
And number two, with regard to the ability of the United States to take action militarily, it is—it is not in my purview to talk about classified information. But we feel quite confident we could deal a serious blow to the Iranians.
But number two, the Iranians are—the Israelis and the United States, our military and intelligence communities are absolutely the same exact place in terms of how close—how close the Iranians are to getting a nuclear weapon. They are a good way away. There is no difference between our view and theirs.
When my friend talks about fissile material, they have to take this highly enriched uranium, get it from 20 percent up, then they have to be able to have something to put it in. There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know—we’ll know if they start the process of building a weapon.
So all this bluster I keep hearing, all this loose talk, what are they talking about? Are you talking about, to be more credible—what more can the president do, stand before the United Nations, tell the whole world, directly communicate to the ayatollah, we will not let them acquire a nuclear weapon, period, unless he’s talking about going to war.
RYAN: Martha? Let’s…
RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan? RYAN: Let’s look at this from the view of the ayatollahs. What do they see? They see this administration trying to water down sanctions in Congress for over two years. They’re moving faster toward a nuclear weapon. They’re spinning the centrifuges faster.
They see us saying when we come into the administration, when they’re sworn in, we need more space with our ally, Israel. They see President Obama in New York City the same day Bibi Netanyahu is and he, instead of meeting with him, goes on a—on a daily talk show.
They see, when we say that these options are on the table, the secretary of defense walked them back.
They are not changing their mind. That’s what we have to do, is change their mind so they stop pursuing nuclear weapons, and they’re going faster.
RADDATZ: How do you do it so quickly? Look, you—you both saw Benjamin Netanyahu hold up that picture of a bomb with a red line and talking about the red line being in spring. So can you solve this, if the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, can you solve this in two months before spring and avoid nuclear—nuclear…
RYAN: We can debate a time line. We can debate the time line, whether there’s—it’s that short a time or longer. I agree that it’s probably longer.
Number two, it’s all about…
RADDATZ: You don’t agree with that bomb and whether the Israelis…
RYAN: I don’t want to go into classified stuff. But we both agree that to do this peacefully you’ve got to get them to change their minds. They’re not changing their minds. And look at what this administration…
RADDATZ: But what—what do…
BIDEN: Let me tell you what the ayatollah sees.
RYAN: You have to have credibility.
BIDEN: The ayatollah sees his economy being crippled. The ayatollah sees that there are 50 percent fewer exports of oil. He sees the currency going into the tank. He sees the economy going into freefall. And he sees the world for the first time totally united in opposition to him getting a nuclear weapon.
Now, with regard to Bibi, who’s been my friend 39 years, the president has met with Bibi a dozen times. He’s spoken to Bibi Netanyahu as much as he’s spoken to anybody. The idea that we’re not—I was in a, just before he went to the U.N., I was in a conference call with the—with the president, with him talking to Bibi for well over an hour, in—in—in stark relief and detail of what was going on.
This is a bunch of stuff. Look, here’s the deal.
RADDATZ: What does that mean, a bunch of stuff?
BIDEN: Well, it means it’s simply inaccurate.
RYAN: It’s Irish.
BIDEN: It—it is.
We Irish call it malarkey.
RADDATZ: Thanks for the translation. OK.
BIDEN: We Irish call it malarkey. But last thing. The secretary of defense has made it absolutely clear, we didn’t walk anything back. We will not allow the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon. What Bibi held up there was when they get to the point where they can enrich uranium enough to put into a weapon. They don’t have a weapon to put it into.
Let’s all calm down a little bit here. Iran is more isolated today than when we took office. It was on the ascendancy when we took office. It is totally isolated.
RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan?
BIDEN: I don’t know what world this guy’s living in. RYAN: Thank heavens we had these sanctions in place. It’s in spite of their opposition.
BIDEN: Oh, god.
RYAN: They’ve given 20 waivers to this sanction. And all I have to point to are the results. They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapon. I think that case speaks for itself.
RADDATZ: Can you tell the American people…
BIDEN: By the way, they…
RADDATZ: What’s worse, another war in the Middle East…
BIDEN: ... they are not four years closer to a nuclear weapon.
RYAN: Of course they are.
BIDEN: They’re—they’re closer to being able to get enough fissile material to put in a weapon if they had a weapon.
RADDATZ: You are acting a little bit like they don’t want one.
BIDEN: Oh, I didn’t say—no, I’m not saying that. But facts matter, Martha. You’re a foreign policy expert. Facts matter. All this loose talk about them, “All they have to do is get to enrich uranium in a certain amount and they have a weapon,” not true. Not true.
They are more—and if we ever have to take action, unlike when we took office, we will have the world behind us, and that matters. That matters.
RADDATZ: What about Bob Gates’ statement? Let me read that again, “could prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations.”
BIDEN: He is right. It could prove catastrophic, if we didn’t do it with precision.
RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan?
RYAN: And what it does is it undermines our credibility by backing up the point when we make it that all options are on the table. That’s the point. The ayatollahs see these kinds of statements and they think, “I’m going to get a nuclear weapon.”
When—when we see the kind of equivocation that took place because this administration wanted a precondition policy, so when the Green Revolution started up, they were silent for nine days. When they see us putting—when they see us putting daylight between ourselves and our allies in Israel, that gives them encouragement. When they see Russia watering down any further sanctions, the only reason we got a U.N. sanction is because Russia watered it down and prevented these central bank sanctions in the first place. So when they see this kind of activity, they are encouraged to continue, and that’s the problem.
BIDEN: Martha, let me tell you what Russia…
RADDATZ: Well, let me ask you what’s worse, war in the Middle East, another war in the Middle East, or a nuclear-armed Iran?
RYAN: I’ll tell you what’s worse. I’ll tell you what’s worse.
RYAN: A nuclear-armed Iran which triggers a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. This is the world’s largest sponsor of—of terrorism. They’ve dedicated themselves…
RYAN: ... to wiping an entire country off the map. They call us the Great Satan. And if they get nuclear weapons, other people in the neighborhood will pursue their nuclear weapons, as well.
RADDATZ: Vice President Biden?
RYAN: We can’t live with that.
BIDEN: War should always be the absolute last resort. That’s why these crippling sanctions, which Bibi Netanyahu says we should continue, which—if I’m not mistaken—Governor Romney says we—we should continue. I may be mistaken. He changes his mind so often, I could be wrong.
But the fact of the matter is, he says they’re working. And the fact is that they are being crippled by them. And we’ve made it clear, big nations can’t bluff. This president doesn’t bluff.
RADDATZ: Gentlemen, I want to bring the conversation to a different kind of national security issue, the state of our economy. The number-one issue here at home is jobs. The percentage of unemployed just fell below 8 percent for the first time in 43 months. The Obama administration had projected that it would fall below 6 percent now after the addition of close to a trillion dollars in stimulus money.
So will both of you level with the American people: Can you get unemployment to under 6 percent and how long will it take?
BIDEN: I don’t know how long it will take. We can and we will get it under 6 percent. Let’s look at—let’s take a look at the facts. Let’s look at where we were when we came to office. The economy was in free fall. We had—the great recession hit; 9 million people lost their job; $1.7—$1.6 trillion in wealth lost in equity in your homes, in retirement accounts for the middle class.
We knew we had to act for the middle class. We immediately went out and rescued General Motors. We went ahead and made sure that we cut taxes for the middle class. And in addition to that, when that—when that occurred, what did Romney do? Romney said, “No, let Detroit go bankrupt.” We moved in and helped people refinance their homes. Governor Romney said, “No, let foreclosures hit the bottom.”
But 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. My friend recently in a speech in Washington said “30 percent of the American people are takers.”
These people are my mom and dad—the people I grew up with, my neighbors. They pay more effective tax than Governor Romney pays in his federal income tax. They are elderly people who in fact are living off of Social Security. They are veterans and people fighting in Afghanistan right now who are, quote, “not paying any tax.”
I’ve had it up to here with this notion that 47 percent—it’s about time they take some responsibility here. And instead of signing pledges to Grover Norquist not to ask the wealthiest among us to contribute to bring back the middle class, they should be signing a pledge saying to the middle class we’re going to level the playing field; we’re going to give you a fair shot again; we are going to not repeat the mistakes we made in the past by having a different set of rules for Wall Street and Main Street, making sure that we continue to hemorrhage these tax cuts for the super wealthy.
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.
RADDATZ: Mr. Ryan?
RYAN: Joe and I are from similar towns. He’s from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I’m from Janesville, Wisconsin. You know what the unemployment rate in Scranton is today?
BIDEN: I sure do.
RYAN: It’s 10 percent.
RYAN: You know what it was the day you guys came in—8.5 percent.
RYAN: That’s how it’s going all around America.
BIDEN: You don’t read the statistics. That’s not how it’s going. It’s going down.
RADDATZ: (inaudible) two-minute answer (inaudible)
RYAN: Look, did they come in and inherit a tough situation? Absolutely. But we’re going in the wrong direction. Look at where we are. The economy is barely limping along. It’s growing a 1.3 percent. That’s slower than it grew last year and last year was slower than the year before.
Job growth in September was slower than it was in August, and August was slower than it was in July. We’re heading in the wrong direction; 23 million Americans are struggling for work today; 15 percent of Americans are living in poverty today. This is not what a real recovery looks like. We need real reforms for real recovery and that’s exactly what Mitt Romney and I are proposing. It’s a five-point plan. Get America energy independent in North America by the end of the decade. Help people who are hurting get the skills they need to get the jobs they want. Get this deficit and debt under control to prevent a debt crisis.
Make trade work for America so we can make more things in America and sell them overseas, and champion small businesses. Don’t raise taxes on small businesses because they’re our job creators.
RYAN: He talks about Detroit. Mitt Romney’s a car guy. They keep misquoting him, but let me tell you about the Mitt Romney I know. This is a guy who I was talking to a family in Northborough, Massachusetts the other day, Sheryl and Mark Nixon. Their kids were hit in a car crash, four of them. Two of them, Rob and Reed, were paralyzed. The Romneys didn’t know them. They went to the same church; they never met before.
Mitt asked if he could come over on Christmas. He brought his boys, his wife, and gifts. Later on, he said, “I know you’re struggling, Mark. Don’t worry about their college. I’ll pay for it.”
When Mark told me this story, because, you know what, Mitt Romney doesn’t tell these stories. The Nixons told this story. When he told me this story, he said it wasn’t the help, the cash help. It’s that he gave his time, and he has consistently.
This is a man who gave 30 percent of his income to charity, more than the two of us combined. Mitt Romney’s a good man. He cares about 100 percent of Americans in this country. And with respect to that quote, I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.
BIDEN: But I always say what I mean. And so does Romney.
RYAN: We want everybody to succeed. We want to get people out of poverty, in the middle class, onto a life of self-sufficiently. We believe in opportunity and upward mobility. That’s what we’re going to push for in a Romney administration.
RADDATZ: Vice president? I have a feeling you have a few things to say here.
BIDEN: The idea—if you heard that—that little soliloquy on 47 percent and you think he just made a mistake, then I think you’re—I—I think—I got a bridge to sell you.
Look, I don’t doubt his personal generosity. And I understand what it’s like. When I was a little younger than the congressman, my wife was in an accident, killed my daughter and my wife, and my two sons survived. I have sat in the homes of many people who’ve gone through what I get through, because the one thing you can give people solace is to know if they know you’ve been through it, that they can make it. So I don’t doubt his personal commitment to individuals. But you know what? I know he had no commitment to the automobile industry. He just—he said, let it go bankrupt, period. Let it drop out. All this talk—we saved a million jobs. Two hundred thousand people are working today.
And I’ve never met two guys who’re more down on America across the board. We’re told everything’s going bad. There are 5.2 million new jobs, private-sector jobs. We need more, but 5.2 million—if they’d get out of the way, if they’d get out of the way and let us pass the tax cut for the middle class, make it permanent, if they get out of the way and pass the—pass the jobs bill, if they get out of the way and let us allow 14 million people who are struggling to stay in their homes because their mortgages are upside down, but they never missed a mortgage payment, just get out of the way.
Stop talking about how you care about people. Show me something. Show me a policy. Show me a policy where you take responsibility.
And, by the way, they talk about this Great Recession if it fell out of the sky, like, “Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?” It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy. I was there. I voted against them. I said, no, we can’t afford that.
And now, all of a sudden, these guys are so seized with the concern about the debt that they created.
RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan?
RYAN: Let’s not forget that they came in with one-party control. When Barack Obama was elected, his party controlled everything. They had the ability to do everything of their choosing. And look at where we are right now.
They passed the stimulus. The idea that we could borrow $831 billion, spend it on all of these special interest groups, and that it would work out just fine, that unemployment would never get to 8 percent—it went up above 8 percent for 43 months. They said that, right now, if we just passed this stimulus, the economy would grow at 4 percent. It’s growing at 1.3.
RADDATZ: When could you get it below 6 percent?
RYAN: That’s what our entire premise of our pro-growth plan for a stronger middle class is all about: getting the economy growing at 4 percent, creating 12 million jobs over the next four years.
Look at just the $90 billion in stimulus. The vice president was in charge of overseeing this. $90 billion in green pork to campaign contributors and special interest groups. There are just at the Department of Energy over 100 criminal investigations that have been launched into just how stimulus…
RADDATZ: Go ahead. Go ahead.
BIDEN: Martha, look. His colleague…
RYAN: Crony capitalism and corporate welfare.
BIDEN: ... runs an investigative committee, spent months and months and months going into this.
RYAN: This is the—this is the inspector general.
BIDEN: Months and months. They found no evidence of cronyism.
And I love my friend here. I—I’m not allowed to show letters but go on our website, he sent me two letters saying, “By the way, can you send me some stimulus money for companies here in the state of Wisconsin?” We sent millions of dollars. You know…
RADDATZ: You did ask for stimulus money, correct?
BIDEN: Sure he did. By the way…
RYAN: On two occasions we—we—we advocated for constituents who were applying for grants. That’s what we do. We do that for all constituents who are…
(CROSSTALK) BIDEN: I love that. I love that. This was such a bad program and he writes me a letter saying—writes the Department of Energy a letter saying, “The reason we need this stimulus, it will create growth and jobs.” His words. And now he’s sitting here looking at me.
And by the way, that program, again, investigated. What the Congress said was it was a model. Less than four-tenths of 1 percent waste or fraud in the program.
And all this talk about cronyism. They investigated and investigated, did not find one single piece of evidence. I wish he would just tell—be a little more candid.
RYAN: Was it a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on electric cars in Finland, or on windmills in China?
RYAN: Was it a good idea to borrow all this money from countries like China and spend it on all these various different interest groups?
BIDEN: Let me tell you what was a good idea. It was a good idea, Moody’s and others said that this was exactly what we needed to stop this from going off the cliff. It set the conditions to be able to grow again. We have, in fact, 4 percent of those green jobs didn’t go under—went under, didn’t work. It’s a better batting average than investment bankers have. They have about a 40 percent…
RYAN: Where are the 5 million green jobs that were being…
RADDATZ: I want to move on here to Medicare and entitlements. I think we’ve gone over this quite enough.
BIDEN: By the way, any letter you send me, I’ll entertain.
RYAN: I appreciate that, Joe.
RADDATZ: Let’s talk about Medicare and entitlements. 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?
RYAN: Absolutely. Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.
Look, when I look at these programs, we’ve all had tragedies in our lives. I think about what they’ve done for my own family. My mom and I had my grandmother move in with us who was facing Alzheimer’s. Medicare was there for here, just like it’s there for my mom right now who is a Florida senior.
After my dad died, my mom and I got Social Security survivors benefits, helped me pay for college, it helped her go back to college in her 50s where she started a small business because of the new skills she got. She paid all of her taxes on the promise that these programs would be there for her.
We will honor this promise. And the best way to do it is reform it for my generation.
You see, if you reform these programs for my generation, people 54 and below, you can guarantee they don’t change for people in or near retirement, which is precisely what Mitt Romney and I are proposing.
Look what—look what Obamacare does. Obamacare takes $716 billion from Medicare to spend on Obamacare. Even their own chief actuary at Medicare backs this up. He says you can’t spend the same dollar twice. You can’t claim that this money goes to Medicare and Obamacare.
RYAN: And then they put this new Obamacare board in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors.
This board, by the way, it’s 15 people, the president’s supposed to appoint them next year. And not one of them even has to have medical training.
And Social Security? If we don’t shore up Social Security, when we run out of the IOUs, when the program goes bankrupt, a 25 percent across-the-board benefit cut kicks in on current seniors in the middle of their retirement. We’re going to stop that from happening.
They haven’t put a credible solution on the table. He’ll tell you about vouchers. He’ll say all these things to try and scare people. Here’s what we’re saying: give younger people, when they become Medicare eligible, guaranteed coverage options that you can’t be denied, including traditional Medicare. Choose your plan, and then Medicare subsidizes your premiums, not as much for the wealthy people, more coverage for middle-income people, and total out-of-pocket coverage for the poor and the sick.
Choice and competition. We would rather have 50 million future seniors determine how their Medicare is delivered to them instead of 15 bureaucrats deciding what, if, when, where they get it.
RADDATZ: Vice President Biden, two minutes.
BIDEN: You know, I heard that death panel argument from Sarah Palin. It seems every vice presidential debate I hear this kind of stuff about panels.
But let’s talk about Medicare. What we did is, we saved $716 billion and put it back, applied it to Medicare. We cut the cost of Medicare. We stopped overpaying insurance companies, doctors and hospitals. The AMA supported what we did. AARP endorsed what we did. And it extends the life of Medicare to 2024. They want to wipe this all out.
It also gave more benefits. Any senior out there, ask yourself: Do you have more benefits today? You do. If you’re near the donut hole, you have $800—$600 more to help your prescription drug costs. You get wellness visits without co-pays. They wipe all of this out, and Medicare goes—becomes insolvent in 2016, number one.
Number two, “guaranteed benefit”? It’s a voucher. When they first proposed—when the congressman had his first voucher program, the CBO said it would cost $6,400 a year, Martha, more for every senior, 55 and below, when they got there. He knew that, yet he got all the guys in Congress and women in the Republican Party to vote for it. Governor Romney, knowing that, said, I would sign it, were I there.
Who you believe, the AMA, me, a guy who’s fought his whole life for this, or somebody who would actually put in motion a plan that knowingly cut—added $6,400 a year more to the cost of Medicare?
Now they got a new plan: “Trust me, it’s not going to cost you any more.” Folks, follow your instincts on this one.
And with regard to Social Security, we will not—we will not privatize it. If we had listened to Romney, Governor Romney, and the congressman during the Bush years, imagine where all those seniors would be now if their money had been in the market.
Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad, and they eliminate the guarantee of Medicare.
RYAN: Here’s the problem. They got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, turning Medicare into a piggybank for Obamacare. Their own actuary from the administration came to Congress and said one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business as a result of this.
BIDEN: That’s not what they said.
RYAN: 7.4 million seniors are projected to lose their current Medicare Advantage coverage they have. That’s a $3,200 benefit cut.
BIDEN: That didn’t happen.
RYAN: What we’re saying…
BIDEN: More people signed up.
RYAN: These are from your own actuaries.
BIDEN: More—more—more people signed up for Medicare Advantage after the change.
BIDEN: Nobody is…
RYAN: Mr. Vice President, I know…
BIDEN: No, this is…
RYAN: Mr. Vice President, I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don’t keep interrupting each other.
BIDEN: Well, don’t take all the four minutes then.
RYAN: Let me just—let me just say this. We are not—we’re saying don’t change benefits for people 55 and above. They already organized their retirement around these promises.
RYAN: ... programs for those of us.
RADDATZ: But let—let me ask you this. What—what is your specific plan for seniors who really can’t afford to make up the difference in the value of what you call a premium support plan and others call a voucher?
RYAN: Hundred percent coverage…
RADDATZ: And what…
RYAN: That’s what we’re saying. So we’re saying…
RADDATZ: How do you make that up?
RYAN: ... income adjusts (inaudible) these premium support payments by taking down the subsidies for wealthy people.
Look, this is a plan—by the way, that $6,400 number, it was misleading then, it’s totally inaccurate now. This is a plan that’s bipartisan. It’s a plan I put together with a prominent Democrat senator from Oregon.
BIDEN: There’s not one Democrat who endorses it.
RYAN: It’s a plan…
BIDEN: Not one Democrat who (inaudible).
RYAN: Our partner is a Democrat from Oregon.
BIDEN: And he said he does no longer support (inaudible).
RYAN: We—we—we put it—we put it together with the former Clinton budget director.
BIDEN: Who disavows it.
RYAN: This idea—this idea came from the Clinton commission to save Medicare chaired by Senator John Breaux.
Here’s the point, Martha.
BIDEN: Which was rejected.
RYAN: If we don’t—if we don’t fix this problem pretty soon then current seniors get cut. Here’s the problem: 10,000 people are retiring every single day in America today and they will for 20 years. That’s not a political thing, that’s a math thing.
BIDEN: Martha, if we just did one thing, if we just—if they just allowed Medicare to bargain for the cost of drugs like Medicaid can, that would save $156 billion right off the bat.
RYAN: And it would deny seniors choices.
RYAN: It has a restricted…
BIDEN: Seniors are not denied.
BIDEN: They are not denied.
Look, folks, all you seniors out there, have you been denied choices? Have you lost Medicare Advantage.
RYAN: Because it’s working well right now.
BIDEN: Because we’ve changed the law.
RADDATZ: Vice President Biden, let me ask you, if it could help solve the problem, why not very slowly raise the Medicare eligibility age by two years, as Congressman Ryan suggests?
BIDEN: Look, I was there when we did that with Social Security in 1983. I was one of eight people sitting in the room that included Tip O’Neill negotiating with President Reagan. We all got together and everybody said, as long as everybody’s in the deal, everybody’s in the deal, and everybody is making some sacrifice, we can find a way.
We made the system solvent to 2033. We will not, though, be part of any voucher plan eliminating—the voucher says, “Mom, when you’re—when you’re 65, go out there, shop for the best insurance you can get. You’re out of Medicare.” You can buy back in if you want with this voucher, which will not keep pace—will not keep pace with health care costs. Because if it did keep pace with health care costs, there would be no savings. That’s why they go the voucher. They—we will be no part of a voucher program or the privatization of Social Security.
RYAN: A voucher is you go to your mailbox, get a check, and buy something. Nobody’s proposing that. Barack Obama four years ago running for president said if you don’t have any fresh ideas, use stale tactics to scare voters. If you don’t have a good record to run on, paint your opponent as someone people should run from.
RYAN: Make a big election about small ideas.
RADDATZ: You were one of the few lawmakers to stand with President Bush when he was seeking to partially privatize Social Security.
RYAN: For younger people. What we said then, and what I’ve always agreed is let younger Americans have a voluntary choice of making their money work faster for them within the Social Security system.
BIDEN: You saw how well that worked.
RYAN: That’s not what Mitt Romney’s proposing. What we’re saying is no changes for anybody 55 and above.
BIDEN: What Mitt Romney is proposing…
RYAN: And then the kinds of changes we’re talking about for younger people like myself is don’t increase the benefits for wealthy people as fast as everybody else. Slowly raise the retirement age over time.
RYAN: It wouldn’t get to the age of 70 until the year 2103 according to the actuaries.
RADDATZ: Quickly, Vice President?
BIDEN: Quickly. The bottom line here is that all the studies show that if we went with Social Security proposal made by Mitt Romney, if you’re 40—in your 40s now you will pay $2,600 a year—you get $2,600 a year less in Social Security. If you’re in your 20s now, you get $4,700 (inaudible) less.
The idea of changing, and change being in this case to cut the benefits for people without taking other action you could do to make it work is absolutely the wrong way.
These—look, these guys haven’t been big on Medicare from the beginning. Their party’s not been big on Medicare from the beginning. And they’ve always been about Social Security as little as you can do.
Look, folks, use your common sense. Who do you trust on this—a man who introduced a bill that would raise it 40—$6,400 a year; knowing it and passing it, and Romney saying he’d sign it, or me and the president?
RYAN: That statistic was completely misleading. But more importantly…
BIDEN: That’s—there are the facts right…
RYAN: This is what politicians do when they don’t have a record to run on: try to scare people from voting for you. If you don’t get ahead of this problem, it’s going to…
BIDEN: Medicare beneficiaries—there are more beneficiaries…
RADDATZ: We’re going to—we’re going to move…
RADDATZ: ... very simple question…
RYAN: We’re not going to run away. Medicare and Social Security did so much for my own family. We are not going to jeopardize this program, but we have to save it…
BIDEN: You are jeopardizing this program. You’re changing the program from a guaranteed benefit to premium support. Whatever you call it, the bottom line is people are going to have to pay more money out of their pocket and the families I know and the families I come from, they don’t have the money to pay more out…
RYAN: That’s why we’re saying more for lower income people and less for higher income people.
RADDATZ: Gentlemen, I would like to move on to a very simple question for both of you, and something tells me I won’t get a very simple answer, but let me ask you this.
BIDEN: I gave you a simple answer. He’s raising the cost of Medicare.
RADDATZ: OK, on to taxes. If your ticket is elected, who will pay more in taxes? Who will pay less? And we’re starting with Vice President Biden for two minutes.
BIDEN: The middle class will pay less and people making $1 million or more will begin to contribute slightly more. Let me give you one concrete example. The continuation of the Bush tax cuts—we are arguing that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy should be allowed to expire. Of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, $800 million—billion of that goes to people making a minimum of $1 million.
We see no justification in these economic times for those, and they’re patriotic Americans. They’re not asking for this continued tax cut. They’re not suggesting it, but my friends are insisting on it; 120,000 families by continuing that tax cut will get an additional $500 billion in tax relief in the next 10 years and their income is an average of $8 million.
We want to extend permanently the middle-class tax cut for—permanently, from the Bush middle-class tax cut. These guys won’t allow us to. You know what they’re saying? We say “let’s have a vote—let’s have a vote on the middle-class tax cut and let’s have a vote on the upper (ph) tax cut; let’s go ahead and vote on it.”
They’re saying no. They’re holding hostage the middle class tax cut to the super wealthy. And on top of that, they’ve got another tax cut coming that’s $5 trillion that all of the studies point out will in fact give another $250 million—yeah, $250,000 a year to those 120,000 families and raise taxes for people who are middle income with a child by $2,000 a year.
This is unconscionable. There is no need for this. The middle class got knocked on their heels. The great recession crushed them. They need some help now. The last people who need help are 120,000 families for another—another $500 billion tax cut over the next 10 years.
RYAN: Our entire premise of these tax reform plans is to grow the economy and create jobs. It’s a plan that’s estimated to create 7 million jobs. Now, we think that government taking 28 percent of a family and business’s income is enough. President Obama thinks that the government ought to be able to take as much as 44.8 percent of a small business’s income.
RYAN: Look, if you taxed every person and successful business making over $250,000 at 100 percent, it would only run the government for 98 days. If everybody who paid income taxes last year, including successful small businesses, doubled their income taxes this year, we’d still have a $300 billion deficit. You see? There aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending.
And so the next time you hear them say, “Don’t worry about it, we’ll get a few wealthy people to pay their fair share,” watch out, middle class, the tax bill’s coming to you.
That’s why we’re saying we need fundamental tax reform. Let’s take a look at it this way. Eight out of 10 businesses, they file their taxes as individuals, not as corporations. And where I come from, overseas, which is Lake Superior, the Canadians, they dropped their tax rates to 15 percent. The average tax rate on businesses in the industrialized world is 25 percent, and the president wants the top effective tax rate on successful small businesses to go above 40 percent.
Two-thirds of our jobs come from small businesses. This one tax would actually tax about 53 percent of small-business income. It’s expected to cost us 710,000 jobs. And you know what? It doesn’t even pay for 10 percent of their proposed deficit spending increases.
What we are saying is, lower tax rates across the board and close loopholes, primarily to the higher-income people. We have three bottom lines: Don’t raise the deficit, don’t raise taxes on the middle class, and don’t lower the share of income that is borne by the high-income earners.
He’ll keep saying this $5 trillion plan, I suppose. It’s been discredited by six other studies. And even their own deputy campaign manager acknowledged that it wasn’t correct.
RADDATZ: Well, let’s talk about this 20 percent. You have refused—and, 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?
RYAN: Different than this administration, we actually want to have big bipartisan agreements. You see, I understand the…
RADDATZ: Do you have the specifics? Do you have the…
(CROSSTALK) BIDEN: That would—that would be a first for the Republican Congress.
RADDATZ: Do you know exactly what you’re doing?
RYAN: Look—look at what Mitt Romney—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 raised about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forego about $1.1 trillion 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…
BIDEN: Can I translate?
RYAN: ... so we can lower tax rates across the board. Now, here’s why I’m saying this. What we’re saying is, here’s the framework…
BIDEN: I hope I’m going to get time to respond to this.
RADDATZ: You’ll get time.
RYAN: We want to work with Congress—we want to work with the Congress on how best to achieve this. That means successful. Look…
RADDATZ: No specifics, again.
RYAN: Mitt—what we’re saying is, lower tax rates 20 percent, start with the wealthy, work with Congress to do it…
RADDATZ: And you guarantee this math will add up?
RYAN: Absolutely. Six studies have guaranteed—six studies have verified that this math adds up. But here’s…
RADDATZ: Vice President Biden…
BIDEN: .. let me translate. Let me have a chance to translate.
RYAN: I’ll come back in a second, then, right?
BIDEN: First of all, I was there when Ronald Reagan tax breaks—he gave specifics of what he was going to cut, number one, in terms of tax expenditures. Number two, 97 percent of the small businesses in America pay less—make less than $250,000. Let me tell you who some of those other small businesses are: hedge funds that make $600 million, $800 million a year. That’s—that’s what they count as small businesses, because they’re pass- through.
Let’s look at how sincere they are. Ronald—I mean, excuse me, Governor Romney on “60 Minutes”—I guess it was about 10 days ago—was asked, “Governor, you pay 14 percent on $20 million. Someone making $50,000 pays more than that. Do you think that’s fair?” He said, “Oh, yes, that’s fair. That’s fair.”
This is—and they’re going to talk—you think these guys are going to go out there and cut those loopholes? The loophole—the biggest loophole they take advantage of is the carried interest loophole and—and capital gains loophole. They exempt that.
BIDEN: Now, there’s not enough—the reason why the AEI study, the American Enterprise Institute study, the Tax Policy Center study, the reason they all say it’s going—taxes go up on the middle class, the only way you can find $5 trillion in loopholes is cut the mortgage deduction for middle-class people, cut the health care deduction, middle-class people, take away their ability to get a tax break to send their kids to college. That’s why they arrive at it.
RADDATZ: Is he wrong about that?
RYAN: He is wrong about that. They’re…
BIDEN: How’s that?
RYAN: You can—you can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle-class taxpayers…
BIDEN: Not mathematically possible.
RYAN: It is mathematically possible. It’s been done before. It’s precisely what we’re proposing.
BIDEN: It has never been done before.
RYAN: It’s been done a couple of times, actually.
BIDEN: It has never been done before.
RYAN: Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth. Ronald Reagan…
BIDEN: Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy?
RYAN: Ronald Reagan—Republicans and Democrats…
BIDEN: This is amazing.
RYAN: Republican and Democrats have worked together on this.
BIDEN: That’s right.
RYAN: You know, I understand you guys aren’t used to doing bipartisan deals…
BIDEN: But we told each other what we’re going to do.
RYAN: Republicans and Democrats…
BIDEN: When we did it Reagan, we said, here—here are the things we’re going to cut.
BIDEN: That’s what we said.
RYAN: We said here’s the framework, let’s work together to fill in the details. That’s exactly…
BIDEN: Fill in the detail.
RYAN: That’s how you get things done. You work with Congress—look, let me say it this way.
BIDEN: That’s coming from a Republican Congress working bipartisanly, 7 percent rating? Come on.
RYAN: Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, where 87 percent of the legislators he served, which were Democrats. He didn’t demonize them. He didn’t demagogue them. He met with those party leaders every week. He reached across the aisle. He didn’t compromise principles.
BIDEN: And you saw what happened.
RYAN: He found common ground—and he balanced the budget…
BIDEN: You saw—if he did such a great job…
RADDATZ: Mr. Vice President…
RYAN: ... four times without raising taxes…
BIDEN: Why isn’t he even contesting Massachusetts?
RADDATZ: Mr. Vice President, what would you suggest—what would you suggest beyond raising taxes on the wealthy, that would substantially reduce the long-term deficit?
BIDEN: Just let the taxes expire like they’re supposed to on those millionaires. We don’t—we can’t afford $800 billion going to people making a minimum of $1 million. They do not need it, Martha. Those 120,000 families make $8 million a year. Middle-class people need the help. Why does my friend cut out the tuition tax credit for them? Why does he go after the childcare…
RADDATZ: Can you declare anything off-limits?
BIDEN: Why do they do that?
RADDATZ: Can you declare anything off-limits?
RYAN: Yeah, we’re saying close loopholes…
RADDATZ: Home mortgage deduction?
RYAN: ... on high-interest people.
RADDATZ: Home mortgage deduction?
RYAN: For higher-income people. Here…
BIDEN: Can you guarantee that no one making less than $100,000 will have a mortgage—their mortgage deduction impacted? Guarantee?
RYAN: This taxes a million small businesses. He keeps trying to make you think that it’s just some movie star or hedge fund guy or an actor…
BIDEN: Ninety-seven percent of the small businesses make less than $250,000 a year, would not be affected.
RYAN: Joe, you know it hits a million—this taxes a million people, a million small businesses.
BIDEN: Does it tax 97 percent of the American businesses?
RYAN: It taxes a million small businesses…
BIDEN: Small businesses?
RYAN: ... who are our greatest job creators.
BIDEN: I wish I’d get—the “greatest job creators” are the hedge fund guys.
RADDATZ: And you’re—and you’re going to increase the defense budget.
RYAN: Think about it this way.
RADDATZ: And you’re going to increase the defense budget.
RYAN: No, we’re not just going to cut the defense budget like they’re—they’re proposing…
BIDEN: They’re going to increase it $2 billion.
RYAN: That’s not…
RYAN: We’re talking about… RADDATZ: So no massive defense increases?
RYAN: No, we’re saying don’t—OK, you want to get into defense now?
RADDATZ: Yes, I do. I do, because that’s another math question.
RYAN: So—right, OK.
RADDATZ: How do you do that?
RYAN: So they proposed a $478 billion cut to defense to begin with. Now we have another $500 billion cut to defense that’s lurking on the horizon. They insisted upon that cut being involved in the debt negotiations, and so we have a $1 trillion cut…
RADDATZ: Let’s put the automatic defense cuts aside, OK?
RYAN: Right, OK.
RADDATZ: Let’s put those aside. No one wants that.
BIDEN: I’d like to go back to that.
RADDATZ: But I want to know how you do the math and have this increase in defense spending?
BIDEN: Two trillion dollars.
RYAN: You don’t cut defense by a trillion dollars. That’s what we’re talking about.
RADDATZ: And what—what national security issues justify an increase?
BIDEN: Who’s cutting it by $1 trillion?
RYAN: We’re going to cut 80,000 soldiers, 20,000 Marines, 120 cargo planes. We’re going to push the Joint Strike Fighter out…
RADDATZ: Drawing down in one war and one war…
RYAN: If these cuts go through, our Navy will be the smallest—the smallest it has been since before World War I.
This invites weakness. Look, do we believe in peace through strength? You bet we do. And that means you don’t impose these devastating cuts on our military.
So we’re saying don’t cut the military by a trillion dollars. Not increase it by a trillion, don’t cut it by a trillion dollars.
RADDATZ: Quickly, Vice President Biden on this. I want to move on.
BIDEN: Look, we don’t cut it. And I might add, this so-called—I know we don’t want to use the fancy word “sequester,” this automatic cut—that was part of a debt deal that they asked for.
And let me tell you what my friend said at a press conference announcing his support of the deal. He said, and I’m paraphrase, We’ve been looking for this moment for a long time.
RYAN: Can I tell you what that meant?
RYAN: We’ve been looking for bipartisanship for a long time.
BIDEN: And so the bipartisanship is what he voted for, the automatic cuts in defense if they didn’t act.
And beyond that, they asked for another—look, the military says we need a smaller, leaner Army, we need more special forces, we need—we don’t need more M1 tanks, what we need is more UAVs.
RADDATZ: Some of the military.
BIDEN: Not some of the military. That was the decision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended to us and agreed to by the president. That is a fact.
RADDATZ: Who answers to a civilian leader.
BIDEN: They made the recommendation first.
RADDATZ: OK. Let’s move on to Afghanistan.
RYAN: Can I get into that for a second?
RADDATZ: I’d like to move on to Afghanistan please. And that’s one of the biggest expenditures this country has made, in dollars, and more importantly in lives.
We just passed the sad milestone of losing 2,000 U.S. troops there in this war. More than 50 of them were killed this year by the very Afghan forces we are trying to help.
Now, we’ve reached the recruiting goal for Afghan forces, we’ve degraded Al Qaida. So tell me, why not leave now? What more can we really accomplish? Is it worth more American lives?
RYAN: We don’t want to lose the gains we’ve gotten. We want to make sure that the Taliban does not come back in and give Al Qaida a safe haven.
We agree with the administration on their 2014 transition.
Look, when I think about Afghanistan, I think about the incredible job that our troops have done. You’ve been there more than the two of us combined. First time I was there in 2002, it was amazing to me what they were facing. When I went to the Ahgandah (ph) Valley in Kandahar before the surge, I sat down with a young private in the 82nd from the Monamanee (ph) Indian reservation who would tell me what he did every day, and I was in awe. And to see what they had in front of them.
And then to go back there in December, to go throughout Helmand with the Marines, to see what they had accomplished, it’s nothing short of amazing.
What we don’t want to do is lose the gains we’ve gotten. Now, we’ve disagreed from time to time on a few issues. We would have more likely taken into accounts the recommendations from our commanders, General Petraeus, Admiral Mullen, on troop levels throughout this year’s fighting season. We’ve been skeptical about negotiations with the Taliban, especially while they’re shooting at us.
But we want to see the 2014 transition be successful, and that means we want to make sure our commanders have what they need to make sure that it is successful so that this does not once again become a launching pad for terrorists.
RADDATZ: Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: Martha, let’s keep our eye on the ball. The reason—I’ve been in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq 20 times. I’ve been up in the Konar (ph) Valley. I’ve been throughout that whole country, mostly in a helicopter, and sometimes in a vehicle.
The fact is, we went there for one reason: to get those people who killed Americans, Al Qaida. We’ve decimated Al Qaida central. We have eliminated Osama bin Laden. That was our purpose.
And, in fact, in the meantime, what we said we would do, we would help train the Afghan military. It’s their responsibility to take over their own security. That’s why with 49 of our allies in Afghanistan, we’ve agreed on a gradual drawdown so we’re out of there by the year 20—in the year 2014.
My friend and the governor say it’s based on conditions, which means it depends. It does not depend for us. It is the responsibility of the Afghans to take care of their own security. We have trained over 315,000, mostly without incident. There have been more than two dozen cases of green-on-blue where Americans have been killed. If we do not—if the measures the military has taken do not take hold, we will not go on joint patrols. We will not train in the field. We’ll only train in the—in the Army bases that exist there.
But we are leaving. We are leaving in 2014. Period. And in the process, we’re going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion. We’ve been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now, all we’re doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security.
It’s their responsibility, not America’s.