And It's Joe Biden for the ... Laugh
"You know, I heard that death panel argument from Sarah Palin. It seems every vice presidential debate I hear this kind of stuff about panels," Biden said, though the 2008 debate came before IPAB was proposed.
In arguing about Medicare advantage coverage, Ryan quipped, "Mr. Vice President, I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other."
"Well, don't take all the four minutes then," Biden said.
The debate got tangled in wonk-ese -- and dropped out of the Twitter trending topics, an indication that viewers may have been dropping out -- when it came to tax reform.
"Look, if you taxed every person and successful business making over $250,000 at 100 percent, it would only run the government for 98 days. If everybody who paid income taxes last year, including successful small businesses, doubled their income taxes this year, we'd still have a $300 billion deficit. You see? There aren't enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending," Ryan said.
"And so the next time you hear them say, 'Don't worry about it, we'll get a few wealthy people to pay their fair share,' watch out, middle class, the tax bill's coming to you," he added.
When advocating a Ronald Reagan-Tip O'Neill framework for forging tax reform, Biden asked if he could "translate."
"There's not enough -- the reason why the AEI study, the American Enterprise Institute study, the Tax Policy Center study, the reason they all say it's going -- taxes go up on the middle class, the only way you can find $5 trillion in loopholes is cut the mortgage deduction for middle-class people, cut the health care deduction, middle-class people, take away their ability to get a tax break to send their kids to college. That's why they arrive at it," Biden said, citing AEI, the think-tank where Ryan originally introduced his Path to Prosperity budget plan.
"He is wrong about that," Ryan said. "You can -- you can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle-class taxpayers."
"Not mathematically possible," Biden interrupted.
Ryan countered that the plan had been done "a couple of times" -- "Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth. Ronald Reagan…"
"Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy?" Biden broke in, laughing.
An hour after the debate was over, #ThingsThatMakeBidenLaugh was trending on Twitter.
Biden sobered up for the abortion part of the debate, when each candidate was asked how his Catholic faith affected his policy on the issue.
"I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, of how to make sure that people have a chance in life," Ryan said, turning to a hit on the HHS contraception mandate. "…Our church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain their religious liberties."
"My religion defines who I am, and I've been a practicing Catholic my whole life. And has particularly informed my social doctrine. The Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who -- who can't take care of themselves, people who need help. With regard to -- with regard to abortion, I accept my church's position on abortion. …Life begins at conception in the church's judgment. I accept it in my personal life," Biden said. "But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the -- the congressman."
"With regard to the assault on the Catholic church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact," Biden claimed.
"Man vs Food a good show, Man vs Boy a gr8 debate - go Joe!" Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) tweeted in support of his old upper chamber colleague. "By the end of this Ryan may vote for Joe."
But Ryan's GOP congressional colleagues heartily championed their own.
"There’s no one out there who knows more about pro-growth economic policies than @PaulRyanVP," tweeted House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Responding to a Larry Sabato tweet noting "You have to admit, Biden is on fire," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) tweeted, "Burn baby burn."
In the end, it was the Biden laugh track edging out malarkey -- "With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey, because not a single thing he said is accurate," the veep said of Ryan's Libya answer -- for the undisputed win.
"I actually like Joe Biden even though when he smiles he reminds me of the guy that sold me my worst car," tweeted comedian Albert Brooks. "Ryan's going to kill him when they get to bench pressing."