DURHAM — Vice President Joe Biden on Monday followed the Republican presidential ticket into North Carolina, warning that their prescriptions might help the rich, but were the wrong medicine for the struggling middle class.
Appearing at a Democratic rally, Biden said the addition of Paul Ryan, the architect of the House budget, to the GOP ticket only broadened the differences in the November election on a range of issues including Medicare, student loans and veterans programs.
He is a good, decent guy, Biden told about 900 people at the old Durham armory, referring to Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman. But the differences could not be more clearly laid out. They have a different value set than we have.
Romney and Ryan campaigned in Mooresville and High Point on Sunday on what they called the failings of the economy under the Obama administration. Biden while not ignoring the economy sought to refocus the debate on Republican nostrums, which he characterized as a return to the policies that got the country into the recession.
Biden said he believed Americans would reject the ideas of Ryan and House Republicans, and he sought to tie those policies around Romneys neck.
They are both good men, Biden said, but they have fundamentally flawed judgment in my opinion.
They call their plan gutsy, Biden said.
What is gutsy about giving millionaires and billionaires another tax break? Biden asked. What is gutsy about gutting Medicare and Medicaid? It will not grow the economy and will not end the deficit. We have seen this movie before. We know how it will end.
Rob Lockwood, a spokesman for the Republican Party, noted that the Obama administration had proposed reductions in Medicare increases as part of the Affordable Care Act. He was referring to a reduced rate in reimbursement payments to hospitals, drug and insurance companies.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden cut $700 billion from Medicare, a move that will directly impact seniors, and the Obama campaign called than an achievement, said Lockwood said in a statement. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are promoting solutions that will preserve Medicare for future generations, and make sure that current seniors benefits arent changed. Joe Biden isnt just disagreeing with Republicans on this issue, hes disagreeing with North Carolinas own favorite Democrat, Erskine Bowles.
Mondays rhetoric aside, Republicans have proposed the same Medicare cuts as the Democrats. The GOP House budget, backed by nearly every House Republican, while repealing the health care act, kept the same cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates that was in the Affordable Care Act legislation.
Ryan has not proposed gutting Medicare. He has proposed giving middle-aged and younger workers the option of using public vouchers to help buy private insurance.
Biden said the economy was slowly recovering, having added jobs for 29 straight months. The Obama administration plan is to grow the economy from the middle out, not from the top down.
The Democrats who gathered in the old armory were loyalists, and they chanted four more years when Biden took the stage.
I am so proud of the grace and strength (the president) has shown in the face of real opposition, said Vonna Viglione of Raleigh.
Joe Blue of Raleigh said he thought choosing Ryan was suicide for the Republicans. I dont know how they are going to explain their Social Security cuts and their education cuts. They want to make the middle class poor.
Biden also visited Blue Coffee Cafe in downtown Durham, where he met with the winners of the campaigns Cup of Joe with Joe contest. The winners were Luis and Abigail de la Cruz of Schertz, Texas, and Carolyn Gigerich of Indianapolis.
It was the same downtown Durham cafe where then-Sen. Barack Obama stopped during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Later, Biden visited the Hillsborough Fire Department, where he met with the firefighters and their families. He exchanged small talk and related how fire and rescue workers had saved his life and those of his family when his wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident, when he suffered an aneurysm and when his house was struck by lightning
I just wanted to come and say thanks, Biden said.
He then headed to Danville, Va., where he planned to respond to the GOP bus trip in that state.