Networks Grill Paul Ryan, Tout Joe Biden as a Policy Expert

The hosts of the three network morning shows on Tuesday grilled Paul Ryan, questioning the Republican's facts and citing Joe Biden as a policy expert. Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos highlighted a quote from the Vice President touting the last four years.

Good Morning America's Stephanopoulos interrogated, "When [Biden] says Osama bin Laden is dead, General Motors is alive, you say?" Using remarkably similar language, CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose pressed Ryan on Obama's first term, parroting, "...Vice President Biden has come back and said, as you know, General Motors is alive and Osama Bin Laden is dead."

Stephanopoulos acted as human talking points, repeatedly telling the GOP's vice presidential nominee what the Democrats think. First he insisted, " And the Democrats, as you know, are already taking aim at [your economic] solutions." [MP3 audio here. See video above.]

Then, the ex-Clinton operative chided, "The Democrats say you're being dishonest when you charge them with raiding Medicare to pay for President Obama's health care plan."

Stephanopoulos did this often during last week's Republican convention. To Jeb Bush, he prefaced, "You know what Democrats say." On Wednesday night, minutes after Ryan finished his speech, he informed, "I got an e-mail from a top Democrat saying the speech was audacious in its dishonesty."

Over on the Today show, Matt Lauer lectured Paul Ryan, explaining to the Congressman: "There are some people who are claiming that you played a little fast and loose with the truth on certain key elements. And I'm not just talking about Democratic analysts, I'm talking about some independent fact checkers."

Lauer continued, "Would you concede that while many of the things you said were effective, some were not completely accurate?"

After Ryan shot back that Lauer needed to "read the speech," the host haughtily responded, "I not only read the speech, I listened to it."

A transcript of the September 4 segment, which aired at 7:09am EDT, follows:


7:09

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn to the race for the White House now. A crucial week in your voice, your vote. The President and his party will take the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte to make his case. And the big question, are Americans better off now than four years ago? The Vice President gave his answer at a Labor Day rally in Detroit.

JOE BIDEN: You want to know whether we're better off? I got a little bumper sticker for you. Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And for the rebuttal, we're joined live by the Republicans VP nominee Paul Ryan. Congressman, thanks for joining us this morning. Let's preview that debate with Vice President Biden. When he says Osama bin Laden is dead, General Motors is alive, you say?

PAUL RYAN: Well, General Motors isn't alive in my hometown. The President came to Janesville after the plant shut down-- before the plant shut down and said he would lead an effort to retool the plant. After the plant was shut down, he said he would lead an effort to retool the plant to get people back to work. They're still not back to work. I'd really ask the 23 million people, George, who are struggling to find work in America today, if we're better off than we were four years ago. I'd look at the facts that we've had unemployment above eight percent for 42 months, despite the President's claims that the stimulus would provide the contrary. We're not better off than we were four years ago. Look at all the statistics. I think that's why we're going to be offering big solutions in a big year to get people back to work. To get debt crisis under control. To get higher take-home pay. To create more jobs. We're going to be offering an agenda of economic growth and opportunity as a stark contrast to where we are right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the Democrats, as you know, are already taking aim at those solutions. They argue that the Romney/Ryan tax plan and spending and budget plan is going to crush the middle-class, including a $2,000 tax increase on the middle-class.

RYAN: Not true. What we're saying is we're going to reduce people's tax rates by 20 percent. And we'll do it by closing loopholes. Here's the point, George. We believe there's a bipartisan consensus to be had through this kind of tax reform. Democrats, like the Simpson/Bowles Democrats, agree with us that we should be lowering tax cuts and broadening the base by plugging loopholes so people get to keep more of their own money. So that families and small businesses can have a fair, simple and better tax system. That's one of the keys to economic growth.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, as you know, Congressman, the Tax Policy Institute [sic] and others have looked at your plan to close loopholes. They say you can't cut taxes in the way you say and raise as much money simply by going after loopholes. They looked at every, single one and you just don't go there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They did not actually analyze the Romney plan. And what other groups have shown is you can do this. Look, George, economic growth is the key to this. And one of the keys to economic growth is tax reform. And when we keep taxing our families and successful small businesses at much higher tax rates than our foreign competitors tax theirs, we make our businesses less competitive. Don't forget the fact, George, that eight out of ten businesses file their taxes as individuals. President Obama wants their tax rate to go above 40 percent. Other countries are lowering their tax rates on their businesses. President Obama is promising a higher tax rate. And more to the point, he uses this money for more spending. We don't think we should be taxing small businesses and families more to spend the money in Washington. It hasn't worked. It won't work. And we think we have better solutions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's look at Medicare. The Democrats say you're being dishonest when you charge them with raiding Medicare to pay for President Obama's health care plan. And you targeted, especially, the $716 billion in savings in the President's plan. Isn't it difficult for you to make that charge, given the fact that the budget you wrote passed twice in the House, included those exact same savings?

RYAN: The budget we wrote is based upon current law, which is Obamacare. Don't forget the fact we've already voted and we've already  proposed to repeal Obamacare, every part of Obamacare, including this raid of $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare. They can't have it both ways, George. You can't spend the same dollar twice. You can't say Obamacare is a cost-saver and that we're extending the life of Medicare. One or the other. And the point is, this has been verified and established, if you're taking $716 billion from Medicare, to finance Obamacare, that really is a raid of Medicare for Obamacare. We think that's wrong. Our plan to save Medicare does not affect or change the benefits for anybody who is in or near retirement. But in order to keep that promise, you need to reform Medicare for my generation because Medicare's going bankrupt for my generation. And the kind of reforms we're proposing have a rich tradition of bipartisan support. They came from the Clinton Commission report in the late 1990s. I worked with a Democrat in Congress to put these ideas out there. And so, we think there's a better way to save Medicare for future seniors while we can keep it intact for current seniors. And that means stop the raid of the medicare program to finance Obamacare.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org