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Joe Biden Tops Paul Ryan In Their Debate in Danville, Kentucky

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Last night Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Vice President-hopeful Paul Ryan squared off in a debate in Danville, Kentucky. While Joe Biden Paul Ryanmany Democrats and Republicans will be hard-pressed to agree on much these days, I think everyone would agree that moderator Martha Raddatz (an ABC News Reporter) was light years better than PBS' Jim Lehrer. 

During last week's debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, Jim Lehrer showed about as much life as a dead body on HBO's Boardwalk Empire. Heck, the crypt keeper showed more personality. I shall digress though.

Last night, Raddatz did a masterful job of engaging the candidates and getting them to answer the tough questions. She steered both candidates in the direction of foreign policy for much of the evening. Say what you want about Joe Biden's temper, long-winded rants, and his gaffes, but he is a foreign policy guru. The man knows the ins and outs of how things get done in Washington and you would be hard-pressed to find someone with more knowledge of foreign affairs. He illustrated last night in clear and simple terms why he and President Obama are more qualified to deal with Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and a bevy of other issues in the hotbed of the Middle East.

Biden wasted little time in doing something President Obama had failed to do in the previous debate, bringing up Romney's 47% comment. That was one of the early highlights of the evening. In the end, the most popular sound bite will end up being Biden's "malarkey" comment.

The debate was not without it's factual inaccuracies. During one exchange, Paul Ryan brought up the unemployment rate in Joe Biden's hometown Scranton, which is 10%. He then followed that up by saying that's how things are all over the country, with unemployment increasing. Scranton's unemployment rate was 8.5% when Obama took over. The fact is the national unemployment rate is 7.8%, which is exactly the rate it was when Obama took over as President in January 2009.

Paul Ryan brought up the attack at a Libyan Embassy and opined that the death of Ambassador Stevens was a direct result of the Obama Adminstration's failure to provide security prior to this "terrorist attack." Biden fired back that they never requested the security, despite many claims in the media to the contrary. It turns out that security was requested by the top security official in Libya despite Biden's claim.

Oftentimes last night Biden and Ryan talked over each other and pulled no punches. Even if you are an ardent Obama/Biden supporter you have to give Ryan his kudos. The man is smart and he's 100 times the VP candidate Sarah Palin ever was. When you put Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin side-by-side, it's like comparing Shaquille O'Neal to former Philadelphia 76er draft bust Shawn Bradley. Does Paul Ryan pull spin doctoring tactics? Absolutely. But, what politician doesn't spin? If you even think President Obama doesn't succumb to the political game then you are kidding yourself.

In any event, last night's debate was far from the blowout some claimed. Biden certainly won this debate, but Paul Ryan hung in there despite Biden's ability to fire back on an array of foreign policy and domestic issues. In a very compelling moment last night, Joe Biden spoke directly to a large segment of the American people; Americans older than 50. He pretty much guaranteed that adults above the age of 50 can kiss Social Security and Medicare good bye if Romney and Ryan get there way.

Romney and Ryan claim that the expiration of the Bush taxcuts will irreperably harm small businesses, which are currently taxed at a 25% rate. Since many of them file as individuals (an estimated 85%) they will be taxed over 40% on their earnings, which will cost the nation over 700,000 jobs. Joe Biden fired back that most small businesses would be unaffected by the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

The argument of businesses making over $250,000 has become a large part of the Romney/Ryan argument, but there are many myths. The facts are that if a business earns $250,010 under the new Obama tax plan, the $10 earned above $250,000 will be taxed at a higher rate. Many spin doctors are claiming that these small businesses will be taxed on their entire earnings, which is simply not the case. Even House Speaker John Boehner admitted that only 3% of small businesses would be affected by the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

Last night's debate was strong from beginning to end. Joe Biden did get a little over the top by referring to Ryan as "my friend" numerous times and at times laughed as he spoke, which was a tad disrespectful.

All in all it was a lively, entertaining debate. Will it have much impact on the polls? Maybe a little, but as I stated yesterday - debates don't have the impact on elections like they did years ago.

Contact Dennis Bakay at dbakay@philly2philly.com

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