As Mike Warren highlights, moderator Martha Raddatz apparently didn’t think Obamacare was important enough to make the cut as one of the nine topics she brought up during the vice presidential debate. Two other closely related topics that didn’t make her cut were federal spending and the national debt. Anyone who had been asleep for four years before waking up and tuning in would never have guessed that Obamacare, rampant federal spending, and unsustainable federal debt had given rise to the Tea Party and had propelled the GOP to gains of 63 House seats and 6 Senate seats in the 2010 elections.
To be fair, Raddatz did get interested in asking about federal spending in one respect — in questioning Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s desire not to cut defense spending. She not only brought that up but followed up seven times. Never once, however, did she mention that we would have run huge deficits every year under Obama without having spent one dime on defense. Nor did she mention the $16 trillion national debt (up from $9.986 trillion as of the start of October 2008 — see Table S-9). Nor did she mention President Obama’s four consecutive budgets calling for $1 trillion deficits after no prior president had ever submitted a budget calling for even a $500 billion deficit; the fact that Obama underestimated the 2012 deficit by over $500 billion; the fact that Obama has racked up more deficit spending in just three years (from 2010 through 2012) that any prior president had ever racked up in eight; or the fact that the only times in all of American history that deficits have surpassed 6.0 percent of the gross domestic product have all involved either the Civil War, World War I, World War II, or Obama (under whom average annual deficit spending has amazingly eclipsed 9 percent of GDP).
Instead, the most hard-hitting she could get — except when strongly implying that the Romney-Ryan tax plan would raise the deficit — was to ask Vice President Biden this one question in the midst of addressing the topic of taxes: “Vice President, what would you suggest — what would you suggest beyond raising taxes on the wealthy that would substantially reduce the long-term deficit?”
Biden lamely answered in full, “Not — just let the taxes expire like they’re supposed to on those millionaires. We don’t — we can’t afford $800 billion going to people making a minimum [of] a million dollars. They do not need it, Martha. Those 120,000 families make $8 million a year. Middle-class people need the help. Why does my friend cut out the tuition tax credit for them? Why does he go out after the child....[inaudible]?”
Raddatz immediately turned to Ryan, and asked, “Can you declare anything off limits? Home mortgages deduction…?” Shortly thereafter, she turned her attention to the Romney-Ryan proposals on defense spending and never followed up with Biden.