There were a lot of feisty words and fishy facts in Thursday’s debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Here are some quick highlights:
“We weren’t told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security." —Biden, speaking of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya
Biden’s bold statement was directly contradicted by State Department officials just this week, in testimony before a congressional panel and in unclassified cables released by a congressional committee.
“All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources," said Eric Nordstrom, the top regional security officer in Libya earlier this year. A Utah Army National Guardsman who led a security team, Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, said: “We felt great frustration that those requests were ignored or just never met."
“Prior to the election, prior to him being sworn in, Governor Romney was asked the question about how he would proceed. He said, ‘I wouldn’t move heaven and Earth to get bin Laden.’" — Biden
Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, made this statement in a 2007 interview with the Associated Press: “It’s not worth moving heaven and Earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."
But Biden has ignored the rest of the interview. The AP described Romney as saying he “supports a broader strategy to defeat the Islamic jihad movement." Just a few days later, Romney expanded on his remarks during a debate:
“We’ll move everything to get him. But I don’t want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person — Osama bin Laden — because after we get him, there’s going to be another and another. This is about Shia and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate."
“When Barack Obama was elected, (Iran) had enough fissile material, nuclear material, to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They’re racing toward a nuclear weapon. They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability. ... In Congress, I’ve been fighting for these sanctions since 2009. The administration was blocking us every step of the way." — Ryan
Ryan greatly simplifies things here. Iran has built up its supply of nuclear material, but none of it is known to be usable in a weapon yet. Most experts say the United States and its allies would have ample warning if Iran tried to enrich its nuclear material to weapons grade.
Meanwhile, the debate on Iran sanctions is rather familiar. If you go back four years, you will see that it was the Obama campaign that made claims of weakness and fecklessness on Iran. President George W. Bush had considered the building of a multinational coalition seeking to negotiate with Iran as one of his foreign-policy legacies, but Obama’s campaign was critical, saying it offered “weak carrots and weak sticks."
“Look at all the string of broken promises. ‘If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it.’ Try telling that to the 20 million people who are projected to lose their health insurance if ‘Obamacare’ goes through." — Ryan
Ryan is referring to a recent Congressional Budget Office study that gave several scenarios for what could happen to employer-based coverage once the law was implemented. The most positive scenario has 3 million people being added to employer coverage, while “on balance, the number of people obtaining coverage through their employer would be about 3 million lower in 2019 under the legislation than under prior law," the CBO concludes.
The worst-case scenario was 20 million people, which is where Ryan got his number. It’s worth noting that the baseline scenario — 3 million fewer people — represents just 2 percent of the people who now get insurance through their employers.
The CBO cautions that there is a “tremendous amount of uncertainty" about how employers and employees will respond to the legislation.