Six Things to Watch For in Biden-Ryan Debate

Over 3 days last week, Representative Paul Ryan reserved an indoor tennis court at a Virginia resort, not to practice his backhand, but to hold mock debates. Vice-President Joe Biden has been at his own debate camp in Delaware, overseen by Obama’s top political strategist, Axelrod. After Mr. Mitt Romney’s momentum-shifting performance in first presidential debate, the stakes were raised for the matchup between their chief surrogates. Have spent weeks going over their own and opponent’s talking points for Thursday night’s debate in Danville, Ky. Here are 6 things to watch: Biden Unbound. Biden gave the kind of scathing rebuttal to Mr. Romney at a rally the day after presidential debate many Democrats wished the president had made. Expect Biden, who is able to deliver cutting sarcasm without seeming angry, to continue to make up for Obama’s passivity at the first debate by accusing Romney of dissembling about long-held policies. Ryan is prepared to vigorously set the record straight when he thinks vice-president is distorting, such as the charge that Mr. Romney has proposed $5 trillion in tax cuts directed toward the wealthy. “He’ll be in full attack mode,” Mr. Ryan said of Mr. Biden in an interview last week with The Weekly Standard, “and I don’t think he’ll let any inconvenient facts get in his way”; The Ryan Budget. Republicans and Democrats both rejoiced when Mr. Romney picked Mr. Ryan because the ticket was married to Mr. Ryan’s audacious House budgets with deep cuts in federal spending. Although the budget, which Mr. Romney has largely endorsed, does not specify how programs will be cut, Biden will happily fill in the blanks by saying that an equal, across-the-board cut would mean eliminating 38,000 teachers and dropping 200,000 children from Head Start. “The way Ryan budget works is it ultimately achieves balance by eliminating entire federal government other than the Defense Department,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, who has stood in for Ryan in Mr. Biden’s mock debates; Medicare Cuts. Will Mr. Ryan be tempted to repeat a staple of his and Mr. Romney’s stump speech, that the president has plundered $716 billion from Medicare to pay for “Obamacare?” There is danger there. Mr. Ryan incorporated the same $716 billion savings into his House budget this spring, and he has now renounced that plan because Mr. Romney promises to “restore” the money to Medicare. Mr. Biden would love to see Mr. Ryan, a self-described “numbers guy,” get lost in the weeds of budget baselines and other details he sometimes uses to explain this discrepancy. But the trap seems easy. If there is one thing Ryan has been working on in his debate rehearsals, it is condensing inside-the-Beltway arguments into crisp, two-minute answers; Over Fiscal Cliff ?? (…..)



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8 Responses to Six Things to Watch For in Biden-Ryan Debate

  1. (NYT GOLDEN PICK) Professor Uziel Nogueira says: “Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been at his own debate camp in Delaware this week, overseen by President Obama’s top political strategist, David Axelrod”.

    David Axelrod, the same guy that guided Obama in his debate?

  2. Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate was one of the best and meatiest political conversations in many years, showing that real differences on public policy can be discussed with fervor, anger, laughter and real substance. In contrast to the dismal meeting last week between President Obama and Mitt Romney, this debate gave voters a chance to evaluate the positions of the two tickets, in part because Representative Paul Ryan’s nonanswers were accurate reflections of his campaign. Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. would not sit still for a parade of misleading and often blatantly untruthful descriptions of the state of the economy and the Republican prescriptions for it. Though his grins and head-shakes were often distracting, he did not hesitate to interrupt and demand an end to “malarkey.” The result, expertly controlled by the moderator, Martha Raddatz of ABC News, was both entertaining and enlightening (…..)

  3. In these closing weeks of the campaign, each side wants you to believe that it has the right ideas to fix a still-ailing economy. So here’s what you need to know: If you look at the track record, the Obama administration has been wrong about some things, mainly because it was too optimistic about the prospects for a quick recovery. But Republicans have been wrong about everything. About that misplaced optimism: In a now-notorious January 2009 forecast, economists working for the incoming administration predicted that by now most of the effects of the 2008 financial crisis would be behind us, and the unemployment rate would be below 6 percent. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Why did the administration get it wrong? It wasn’t exaggerated faith in the power of its stimulus plan; the report predicted a fairly rapid recovery even without stimulus. Instead, President Obama’s people failed to appreciate something that is now common wisdom among economic analysts: severe financial crises inflict sustained economic damage, and it takes a long time to recover. This same observation, of course, offers a partial excuse for the economy’s lingering weakness. And the question we should ask given this unpleasant reality is what policies would offer the best prospects for healing the damage. Mr. Obama’s camp argues for an active government role; his last major economic proposal, the American Jobs Act, would have tried to accelerate recovery by sustaining public spending and putting money in the hands of people likely to use it. Republicans, on the other hand, insist that the path to prosperity involves sharp cuts in government spending. And Republicans are dead wrong. The latest devastating demonstration of that wrongness comes from the International Monetary Fund, which has just released its World Economic Outlook, a report combining short-term prediction with insightful economic analysis. This report is a grim and disturbing document, telling us that the world economy is doing significantly worse than expected, with rising risks of global recession. But the report isn’t just downbeat; it contains a careful analysis of the reasons things are going so badly. And what this analysis concludes is that a disproportionate share of the bad news is coming from countries pursuing the kind of austerity policies Republicans want to impose on America. O.K., it doesn’t say that in so many words. What the report actually says is: “Activity over the past few years has disappointed more in economies with more aggressive fiscal consolidation plans.” But that amounts to the same thing (…..)

  4. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Prof PK thinks that Romney has a good chance to win the election. Economics arguments aside, this raises an interesting point. Mitt Romney described almost half of Americans as “people who pay no income tax” and are “dependent upon government.” Those voters, he said, would probably support President Obama because they believe they are “victims” who are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

    The question is: how does the candidate that expressed such views can be elected? The old saying, only in America citizens can vote against their own self interest can be true.

  5. Representative Paul D. Ryan, seizing on new ammunition Saturday with which to attack President Obama on his stance toward China, criticized his administration delaying a report on currency manipulation that was due to be released next week. In his first solo appearance since Thursday’s vice-presidential debate, Mr. Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, focused attention on the issue as he appealed to voters in a Democratic-leaning corner of this state. He argued that Mr. Obama was giving China a free pass as manufacturing communities at home continued to suffer. Mr. Romney has vowed to declare China a currency manipulator on his first day in office — a move Mr. Ryan criticized the president for not taking in the nearly four years he has been in the White House. “The administration had their eighth chance to label China a currency manipulator,” Mr. Ryan told supporters at Youngstown State University, referring to the report. “It’s due in two days. They say they’re going to push this deadline off until after the election. That’s eight opportunities they had to say, ‘You know what? Play fair with us. Trade with us fairly.’ ” The Treasury Department announced on Friday that it would delay the release of its twice-yearly report on foreign exchange rates until after a meeting next month of finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 nations. The reports are often delayed. But Mr. Ryan said the Obama administration needed to more directly confront China for holding down the value of its currency in order to gain an advantage in international trade, and he said the latest postponement reflected Mr. Obama’s “insistence on ignoring these problems.” The United States has not cited China as a currency manipulator, a designation that could lead to retaliatory tariffs, since 1994. Mr. Ryan argued that American jobs had been lost because the Obama administration had not taken a tougher approach, and accused it of allowing China to trample on American intellectual property rights. “Taking our patents, taking our goods that we make and copying them and selling them: that’s not correct, that’s not right,” Mr. Ryan said. “That’s cheating. And you know what? We’re going to do something about it.” Mr. Ryan invoked China as he offered a broader critique of Mr. Obama’s economic policies, arguing that the president had not done enough to protect American manufacturing jobs. Mr. Obama won this area in northeast Ohio by a wide margin in 2008, as did Senator John Kerry and Vice President Al Gore before him, but the Romney campaign is hoping that Democratic voters will defect this year in large part over their frustration with the economy. The Obama campaign, which has accused Mr. Romney of condoning the outsourcing of jobs to China during his private-equity career, suggested that Mr. Ryan’s attacks lacked credibility because of his running mate’s business dealings. “Congressman Ryan’s tough rhetoric can’t hide the fact that Mitt Romney will never crack down on China’s cheating — just look at his record,” a spokesman for the Obama campaign, Danny Kanner, said in a statement.

  6. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: The China blaming game cannot be a decisive economic issue in this presidential election. American voters are quite aware of the economic reality between the two countries. The US profit maximization business model depends on foreign production outsourcing for growth and survival. Nothing can be done about it except changing the business model. China, in turn, needs the US market badly for growth and access to advanced technology to modernize its own fast growing economy.

    Neither Obama nor Romney can be ‘tough’ on China because both economies are linked by the hip. The US, the largest market and debtor nation in the world. China, the largest exporting economy in the world and main buyer of US debt. It is a kind of marriage difficult to file for divorce.

  7. A number of comments on my non-burden of the debt post were along the lines of “But what if the debt is owed to foreigners?” OK, this takes a bit more thinking. Another thought experiment: suppose that for some reason the Chinese and a bunch of domestic investors do an asset swap: the Chinese sell off $500 billion of Treasuries and buy an equal amount of, say, corporate bonds, while the domestic investors do the reverse. Has America become any richer (or any poorer)? Obviously not — as a nation we still owe the same amount to the rest of the world. What this tells us is that when we’re trying to assess the burden or lack thereof of debt, foreign ownership of government debt doesn’t really matter. What does matter is our net international investment position, the value of the overseas assets owned by all domestic residents minus the value of all domestic assets owned by foreign residents.. Now, this ties right in with what Brad said about the burden of the debt: we’d all agree that deficits make us poorer if they crowd out investment spending — which they would if the economy were near full employment, but won’t if we’re deeply depressed. All we have to do is realize that net foreign investment — purchases minus sales of assets from and to foreigners — is also a form of investment. Or to put it a bit more simply, sure, budget deficits can make us poorer as a nation if they lead to bigger trade deficits. So far, nothing like this has happened. Here’s the U.S. budget deficit (all levels of government) and the current account deficit, both as a percentage of GDP: (…) U.S. borrowing from abroad is way down, not up, in recent years. Still, you could argue that a bigger budget deficit would, other things equal, lead to a bigger trade deficit — because it would expand the economy and lead to higher imports. (This is in contrast to business investment, which is almost surely crowded in, not out, by deficits under current conditions). So in this very limited sense you could tell a burden of deficits story. But surely it’s not what debt alarmists have in mind: “Hey, deficit spending could bring us back to prosperity, which might lead to more imports, so let’s not go there!” The bottom line is that while foreign ownership of U.S. assets — not just government debt — is a complication, the common claim that deficits mean that we’re selling our birthright to the Chinese makes no sense at all. So far.

  8. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Prof PK proposition that foreign ownership of government debt DOENS’T really matter is correct for another reason not mentioned in this piece. According to macroeconomic theory, a country’s international position is determined by net international investment i.e., the value of overseas assets owned by domestic residents minus the value of domestic assets owned by foreigners.

    This theoretical proposition presents shortcomings under real life market conditions. In 2001, the Argentinian government could not serve its dollar denominated debt and went into default. At that time, the net international investment position of Argentina was POSITIVE in US$ 150 billion owned by private residents in overseas assets. The same pattern happened to Russia’s debt default in the 90s.

    The questions are: Is the US government debt different from the rest of the world? why does the Argentinian government went broke and the US government does not? another example of US exceptionalism, this time applied to public finances?

    The dominant position of the dollar gives US public finances an extraordinary privilege.

    The FED became the world’s central bank issuing TONS of dollars kept in reserve overseas.

    The global economy is caught in a dollar and US debt trap. Dollars and T-bills are the only liquid financial assets readily available to Central banks and financial markets all over the world. This explains why 56 cents of each dollar of debt issued by the US is bought by foreigners.


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