Viewpoints: Debate Provided 'Meaty' Political Conversation; Looking For Obama's Plan On Medicare

The New York Times: A Debate With Clarity And Fervor
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 (10/12). 

USA Today: Biden, Ryan Put On A Partisan Show
It was for all immediate purposes a draw ... Nowhere were their differences more stark than on the issue of Medicare. Biden attacked Ryan's plan to end the traditional program and have the government write checks to people to buy private insurance. Ryan fired back that Obama's health care overhaul took too much money out of the program for seniors. What neither of them was willing to say is that sacrifices will be needed no matter what approach is taken and who is elected president. They also sparred over abortion rights, with Biden making a point that has gone largely unremarked during this campaign -- that the next president could determine the future of Roe v Wade through Supreme Court appointments (10/12).

The Wall Street Journal: The Bully Vs. The Wonk
Mr. Ryan was stronger on domestic issues, calmly laying out the facts of Mitt Romney's proposals on taxes, Medicare and job creation. Even here, though, the debate devolved into an exchange between Mr. Ryan's policy details and Mr. Biden's free-association appeals to emotion and class solidarity—"Who do you trust on this?" On nearly every specific issue on which Mr. Biden attacked, he was demonstrably wrong. The Administration's Medicare actuary really does say that 15% of hospitals will take on operating deficits as a result of ObamaCare's cuts in payments to Medicare providers (10/12). 

The Washington Post: The Biden-Ryan Show: Good TV But A Dull Debate
But Mr. Biden, too, dodged and obfuscated, particularly on entitlement spending and the debt. "They haven't put a credible solution on the table," Mr. Ryan said of the Obama-Biden ticket on entitlement reform, and he was correct. "Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad, and they eliminate the guarantee of Medicare," Mr. Biden said of the Republicans (10/11).

Los Angeles Times: Vice Presidential Debate: Biden's Mission Accomplished
Still, Biden had one mission, and he accomplished it: to stanch the Democrats' near-panic after Obama's lackluster performance in Denver last week. With a steady diet of old-fashioned Democratic talking points, the vice president did just that. It wasn't subtle; he brought up Romney's dismissal of 47% of the American public as moochers no fewer than four times. For the liberal base, Biden's traditional defenses of Medicare, Social Security and taxing the rich were pure catnip. For undecided voters, they may have been less convincing (Doyle McManus, 10/11).

The Washington Post: VP Debate: Biden Seemed Real, Ryan Plastic
Biden's great triumph was in his effort to show concern. He came out of his corner as the champion of the great and sacrosanct middle class. He cited his mother several times – a bit of a George M. Cohan number, if you ask me – but he pulled it off. He would defend Social Security to the death; Medicare and Medicaid, too (Richard Cohen, 10/11).

The Washington Post: Joe Biden And The 'Seniors Enigma'
Watching Joe Biden hammer Paul Ryan on Medicare before looking into the camera and saying "listen to your instincts, folks," I couldn't help thinking – if Democrats have their classic case well in place on Medicare (and Social Security), why did the last Pew poll have Romney beating Obama 58-37 among seniors? (Matt Miller, 10/12).

The Wall Street Journal: Filiblustering Joe
The judgment of the late-night pundits was that Mr. Biden had done well for his party, and helped to right the Obama ship. Note, however, that Mr. Biden didn't get those accolades because he had made a better case to Americans on jobs or entitlement reform or deficit-cutting. Mr. Biden barely offered any positive argument for how the administration he serves would revive a dismal economy, or reform the Medicare or Social Security programs that are going bankrupt, or fix soaring deficits (Kimberley A. Strassel, 10/12).

Kansas City Star: Yes, Mr. Romney, Americans Die For Lack Of Health Insurance
Poor Mitt Romney. In trying to be all things to all people on health care, he has found himself stuck in a time warp. The Republican presidential nominee, supposedly a new man after his sparkling debate performance last week, has not completely abandoned his clueless ways ... Romney amazingly and wrongly said that Americans don't die for lack of health insurance. ... Oh yes we do, Mr. Romney. This nation has millions of people who become ill because they can’t afford preventive medicine. We have sick people who can’t get well because they can’t afford medications (Barbara Shelly, 10/11).

The New York Times: Multiple Choice Romney
I don't think people expect consistency any longer. It’s considered quaint. ... As for Romney, the best summation of his flip-flopping was provided by Ted Kennedy in a 1994 debate in Massachusetts: "I am pro-choice," Kennedy said, before adding of Romney, "My opponent is multiple-choice." The subject then was abortion and Romney declared, "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country." In response to Kennedy's jibe, he shot back, "You will not see me wavering on that or being multiple-choice." The subsequent wavering has, of course, been more of a volte-face. Romney is now pro-life (Roger Cohen, 10/11).

JAMA: Reproductive Freedom And The 2012 Presidential Election
With the 2012 presidential election just weeks away, there can be little doubt that reproductive freedom hangs in the balance. For one, the next president will be selecting ideologically compatible nominees to a Supreme Court that has repeatedly restricted abortion rights in the last few years. For another, the next president, working with the legislative branch, could well reorder the status quo. President Obama has spoken through his actions over the last 4 years. Far less clarity exists as to Governor Romney’s positions, in light of lingering ambiguities and influence from a resurgent Tea Party (Dr. Eli Y. Adashi and I. Glenn Cohen, 10/11).

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