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  • Morning Bell: 10 Questions for the Vice Presidential Debate

    Tonight’s debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan is supposed to cover both domestic and foreign policy. The Heritage Foundation’s policy experts have submitted 10 questions they would like to see asked in the debate.

    Watch with us tonight—we will be streaming the debate live at 9 p.m. ET on our Debate 2012 page, with an experts’ live blog.


    1. Obamacare takes $716 billion out of Medicare to fund Obamacare. This includes $156 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage. Currently, 27 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, which is a private alternative to traditional Medicare. The Medicare Chief Actuary projects that by 2017, Obamacare’s severe cuts will decrease enrollment in Medicare Advantage by 50 percent and result in less generous benefit packages for those who do remain in the program. What changes would you make, if any, to ensure that these seniors are able to keep their current Medicare Advantage plan?

    2. Patient choice is working well within Medicare and other government health programs. In addition to the private plans in Medicare Advantage, there are 1,100 plans in the Medicare drug program and hundreds of plans in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. None of these plans use “vouchers”; they receive a direct government contribution toward the cost of the plans. Would you expand patient choice in Medicare? Why or why not?

    3. Most people under the age of 40 will pay more in Social Security taxes than they will receive in benefits, and Medicare adds to federal deficits faster than any other government spending program. How would you focus entitlement reform on reducing spending?

    4. Under Obamacare, the Health and Human Services (HHS) preventive services mandate requires nearly all employers to cover abortion drugs and contraception regardless of religious or moral objection, effectively exempting only formal houses of worship. Should Americans be able to live out their faith commitments outside the four walls of their church—in the public square and in the way they run their businesses or non-profits?

    5. It has been almost four years since the federal government took control of General Motors. Vice President Biden has said the bailout of the firm was a success. Was this a success? Why or why not? And when should the federal government sell the shares it still owns?


    1. The United States has a long tradition of respect for freedom of speech and expression, which is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. After the recent conflagrations in Egypt, Libya, and in other Middle Eastern countries, the Obama Administration first blamed a YouTube video that it deemed offensive—even though now it has come out that our ambassador was killed in a terrorist attack, not by people protesting this video. How will you react to any future exercise of free speech on American soil that causes controversy, here or abroad?

    2. The campaigns have focused heavily on the economic challenge posed by China. What will you do to address the political and security challenge that a rising China presents for the U.S. and its allies in the Pacific?

    3. Both Russia and China have claimed that the U.S. missile defense system is destabilizing. What is your position on the role of the missile defense system in the overall U.S. defense posture; should the missile defense system be installed or abandoned, and why?

    4. Canada is eliminating tariffs on products that are used as inputs by the country’s manufacturers. Should the United States adopt a similar tariff-elimination policy to boost the competitiveness of U.S. companies?

    5. Members of Congress and the Administration have acknowledged that the cuts to national security under sequestration will have dire, potentially irreversible effects. For Vice President Biden: How does the Administration plan to deal with these cuts if they go into effect? For Congressman Ryan: How would your Administration handle this challenge differently from the current one?

    Watch the debate with Heritage tonight starting at 9 p.m. ET—you can watch it live, streaming on our Debate 2012 page. On the page, you can also follow our experts’ live blog of their reactions and chime in on Twitter.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    20 Responses to Morning Bell: 10 Questions for the Vice Presidential Debate

    1. I hope Mr Ryan does not think Biden will be a cake walk. He needs to handle this debate with as much or more ferocity than his running mate. He needs to point out the true differences between the candidates and take off the gloves in exposing the true intent of this administration and their minions in congress. Why the senate has not passed a budget resolution in almost 4 years. Why the state department did not protect our ambassador in Libya. Why our government is overspending what it takes in by over a trillion dollars a year and who is going to have to repay it. Why is the President asking defence contractors to violate federal laws in not warning its workers of looming layoffs . Why does the President and the EPA coninue to violate laws and the constitution in bypassing congress in making laws by just calling it another name.

    2. David says:

      Excellent questions. Problem is the moderator is from the lame stream media and even had Obama attend her wedding. How tough do you really think she'll be with Biden? I doubt very tough.

    3. BrianCK says:

      Question to Ryan: What's your opinion on global thermo nuclear war and when President Romney hits the button, now many American lives will be lost?

      Question to Biden: Mr. VP Sir, What's your favorite color and why?

    4. Paul says:

      These are great questions. What I would like to ask about is why Obama in not taken to task for his claim of cutting taxes? The tax he cut was the employee's share of the Social Security tax. The Social Security surplus has already been raided by the government and is gone so now SS payments add to the deficit. Cutting the amount SS takes in only exacerbates this problem. Another case of Obama mis-management.

    5. toledofan says:

      Well, one thing is for sure, Ryan would answer each of these questions and make sense. I think that between Obama and Biden they can't because they have done nothing over the past almost four years to address any of the issues we face. Both our domestic and foriegn policies are a joke and, again, this administrations record is dismal at best, so, tonight, expect nothing more than the same.

    6. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Let's see! Martha Raddatz, the moderator of the VP debate, was married to a guy named Genachowski who just happens to be not only a close frend and financial supporter of Obama, but also a class mate at Harvard, and an appointee to head the FCC by Obama. Oh, Obama attended their wedding in 1991. Does this sound like someone that is unbaised and will be a fair moderator? Or does it sound like the Dems are again shoving it to the Republicans as thet just stand there and look stupid. So, does Amy and HF think any probing questions will be asked and the moderator will allow Ryan to answer?

    7. Palrak says:

      Biden, a seasoned politician, needed 6 days of debate prep! His mind is probably numb (well, more numb) than before.

    8. Mark Simmons says:

      As an executive in charge of church benefits, I can tell you that the HHS mandate exception for "houses of worship" is a farce! Churches are being denied this exception if any contraception coverage was included in their current health care insurance–as is virtually always the case. It doesn't matter that most Protestant churches' objections are over abortion drugs. Nor does it matter if contraception was only available if paid for by the covered individual.

      In other words, HHS has created an exception policy where there will be no exceptions.

    9. Good question's, but too hard for Biden to answer even if he took 10 day's to prepare.
      That's okay though, because the (laughably neutral) moderator will see to it that they're never asked.
      As for question's concerning Obamacare/medicare, Biden can't answer due to having never read the health care bill. The rest of the question's, Biden has absolutely no idea how to answer, because Obama has no idea.

    10. James Richardson says:

      Does The Obama adminastration really plan on signing Treaties with the U.N. to give Our Tax dollars to them…

    11. Bobbie says:

      We need a newbie with intelligence and respect for this country who knows the rules and boundaries of government which Mr. Ryan shows throughout his history, not Mr. Biden who has time to show his juvenile race baiting and hate spreading and slander!
      Excellent questions! With a conflict of interest moderating, she'll ask Biden who won the game last night? Or if he liked the latest episode of "twilight"…

    12. Fred Yates says:

      I would like to see Heritage's answers. to the questions.

      For example FP #4 is very misleading in my opinion. Is that policy doing good or bad for the Canadian economy?

      If the "input" is not available anywhere in Canada then that is a viable option. but if it is and foreign is cheaper why would you encourage supporting another country?

      California hired a Chinese firm to repair some of their bridges, claiming nobody in CA would do it cheap enough. A bankrupt state spent its limited funds to support China doesn't make sense to me.

    13. Ron W. Smith says:

      Excellent questions all, Amy. My only opposition at all is under "Foreign Policy."

      Being SuperPower on Call has become fiscally unwise for the United States. Since 9/11, we've run up most of tour current $16 trillion national debt and now regularly show annual deficits almost the equivalent of what we spend on National Security (National Defense, Homeland Security, Nation Building, Foreign Aid Designed to Gain the Cooperation of Other Countries, and ever-growing Veterans Affairs). Maintaining more than 700 military installations of varying size around the world and ending up in intervention and war after intervention and war has broken the bank. "Borrowing" money from China is what has made it possible, but the annual $300 billion + debt maintenance tab is now part of the reason we've fallen $2-3 trillion behind in very much needed infrastructure maintenance and renewal.
      Conflating "National Defense" and all that being SuperPower on Call has required of us does not help. Talking of protecting the interests of the United States as the reason behind our expensive worldwide footprint also doesn't help. Being sure countries around the world play by what Andrew Bacevitch has called "Washington Rules" also doesn't help, especially when we're perceived as aggressive and possessive by many people internationally. And it certainly doesn't help to ignore Zionism's role in why we're internationally a target, hence the necessity of a SuperPower stance.
      The question I would put in your list under "Foreign Policy," Amy, is this: Do you take it to be absolutely necessary that we spend more annually than the rest of the world combined does on "National Security," and if so, why is cost sharing with other countries, given our national debt, not part of how we eliminate the huge drain of otherwise needed capital?

    14. Shari V says:

      Regarding General Motors, aka "Generous Motors", possibly 50% of their manufacturing has been moved to China. So much for US economic recovery. Is this ok with the VP candidates? How very nice of us American tax payers to fund this development.

      • KHM says:

        @ShariV, Actually Government Motors CEO has said that 7 out of 10 of their products are now made overseas! They have contract agreements with about 11 different Chinese "companies" (which are gov't controlled) . GM also plans to move their R&D to China. I agree with the rest of your statement.
        Biden will of course toe the party line, Ryan will disagree.
        These are great questions Heritage has compiled. I agree with other comments that such a biased debate moderator is not likely to ask Biden such tough questions.
        Biden has more experience inside Congres and the Beltway mindset, but it certainly hasn't made him wiser. Ryan is a quick study "policy wonk", so it should be interesting.

    15. Nicholas Thompson says:

      Under Domestic Policy, why aren't there any questions about the economy, the environment, or energy? These are three major domestic policy issues and 4/5 of the questions picked were about social security and medicare? The focus should be on jobs.

    16. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      What I'd like to know is: Why are you accusing Romney of being a liar?

    17. PaulE says:

      All good questions, but none will be asked by the moderator. I can guarantee you that the first thing Axelrod did following Obama's dismal performance in the last debate was immediately get in touch with tonight's moderator to lay out the "new and improved" ground rules. She of course agreed to all the "suggestions" as the mainstream media remains firmly committed to Obama.

      At the top of the list is of course don't let this be a debate about facts and figures. Stick to the type of questions that will allow Biden to utilize the well worn talking points from the campaign stump. No details! Just quick sound bites and then on to the next question. Also I would imagine Axelrod wants Ryan held to strict one or two minute response times. The back and forth between Romney and Obama just highlighted how out of his depth Obama really is on any number of issues. If Ryan is allowed to provide a detailed response, then Biden is sunk. Biden can barely stay on script with prepared talking points. If he has to go toe to toe with Ryan on the complex details of any number of issues, then Biden will look like a fool. Biden is not a numbers guy or someone known for his command of highly detailed facts to justify a position.

      In short, this will likely be a much more carefully crafted debate than the last one, if the White House exerts its control. I'm sure the White House has helped "screen" all the questions that will be asked at tonight's debate. No doubt the answers to those questions is what Biden has been locked away rehearsing for the last 6 days.

    18. Anne Dunisch says:

      Will there be a short term bailed out for citizens who are unable to find jobs within three years after graduation? My children are being harassed from college loans companies. Thank you

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