Tonight is the first and only vice presidential debate of the 2012 election cycle. Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan will meet at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky at 9pm Thursday night. Democrats are hoping that Biden can rejuvenate Barack Obama's campaign after Obama turned in a poor debate performance against Mitt Romney in Denver last week. You read that correctly. Right now, Democrats are relying on Joe Biden to breathe life back into this campaign.
Let's just put it out there: this debate is not going to be exciting, unless of course you play PolicyMic's official 2012 Vice Presidential Debate Drinking Game, or follow our entertaining live coverage. In fact, here's a dirty little secret which you likely already know: this debate will be as impactful as the NFL Draft's Mr. Irrelevant — the player selected dead last in the draft each April. (Apologies to the fleet-footed Chandler Harnish of the Indianapolis Colts. Look at it this way, you can always look to Ryan Succop for inspiration!)
Not that it really matters all that much, but Biden's polling numbers are poor. Fifty-one percent of Americans view the vice president unfavorably, while only 39% view him favorably. The lesser-known Ryan's numbers, meanwhile, are 44% favorable to 40% unfavorable. Just wait until the remaining 16% who aren't sure find out that Ryan wants to destroy Medicare.
Just as egregious as Ryan's plan to eliminate Medicare (and I'll get to that in a moment), is the fact that he is a total fraud. For all his preachments about fiscal responsibility and the need to have "an adult conversation" about the nation's deficits, Ryan spent the last decade helping to blow the national debt up to cosmic proportions. He voted for both rounds of the Bush tax cuts, the Iraq war resolution, numerous war appropriations bills, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act, and the most anti-Tea Party piece of legislation to come down the pike since the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 — the Troubled Asset Relief Program bank bailout.
On top of that, Ryan's proposal are actually incredibly unpopular.
Ryan has called his "Path to Prosperity" budget proposal a "moral obligation" that must be implemented to fix the country's finances. The plan is aggressively regressive, as it resembles the budget of a banana republic desperate to attract foreign investment, more than that of a functioning democracy. Most notably, the budget:
Eliminates Medicare by converting it into a sliding scale voucher system.
Cuts Medicaid spending by turning it into a block grant program that will hammer states
Lowers the corporate tax rate to 25% and consolidates the current six individual income brackets into two, 25% and 10%
Cuts Pell (college) grants
Broadens the tax base, ensuring that more people will pay federal income taxes, i.e., raises taxes on that 47% that Mitt Romney was talking about.
How do the American people feel about this? No major polls have been taken on these subjects since Ryan introduced his budget for this year, but one imagines public opinion is hardly much different from what it was less than a year ago when an ABC News/ Washington Post poll showed large majorities at odds with major provisions from Ryan’s very similar 2011 budget.
In that poll, 69% opposed any cuts to Medicaid, with 52% strongly opposing them; 78% opposed cuts to Medicare, with 65% strongly opposing them; 65% also opposed any changes to the program; 72% favored raising taxes on annual incomes of $250,000 or more, with 54% strongly supporting them.
None of this is to say the country should be run in exact accordance with majority opinion, but the fact is that Paul Ryan's and Mitt Romney's policy prescriptions are far to the right of what the American public is willing to accept.