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Joe Biden to Florida seniors: Mitt Romney would threaten Medicare

September 28, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images )

TAMARAC, Fla. -- If there's one thing Vice President Joe Biden does more conspicuously here than in other states, it's to play the role as chief validator for his running mate.

Before senior-heavy audiences in southern Florida on Friday, he fulfilled that role in two ways, buttressing the Obama campaign's case against the Republicans on entitlement programs, and offering a firm testimonial for the president when it comes to his stewardship of the U.S. relationship with Israel.

The 69-year-old former senator waxed at greater length here about his decades-long career in public service, in part to make that point.

“Although I was raised by a righteous Christian, my dad, I was raised by an awful lot of folks back home politically who taught me early on, along with my pop, that we have certain special obligations around the world. One of those, one of those, is Israel,” Biden told a predominantly elderly crowd at a retirement community in Boca Raton.

“I’m not going to talk about Israel today, I just want to say one thing. I just want to tell you how proud I am, how proud I am to stand shoulder to shoulder with a guy who has done more for Israel’s physical security than any president of the eight I’ve served with,” he continued.

The comment came on the same day President Obama made a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after criticism that the two did not meet in person during this week's United Nations General Assembly.

But Biden’s main mission here was to discuss Social Security and Medicare, with dire warnings about what Mitt Romney's economic plan could mean for seniors who depend on those programs.

That argument included more “coulds” than “woulds.” Because Romney has not detailed how he'd offset revenue losses that would come from his plan to enact new tax cuts, the Obama campaign has painted its own picture, often citing third-party estimates.

The campaign argues now that Romney's tax plan would require, for the first time, many seniors to pay taxes on their Social Security benefits, $460 on average.

Biden has long been hammering the Republicans on Medicare, which he continued to do here by tying Romney to the plan once offered by his vice presidential pick, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin.

As he acknowledged that Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has revised his initial plan, Biden said the debate gets to the issue of “someone's credibility.”

“Could you fathom me voting for or introducing as vice president, can you fathom the president of the United States introducing a, quote, ‘solution’ to Medicare that would raise the cost on seniors by $6,400 a year?” Biden asked a crowd of more than 800 in Tamarac.

“A lot of you who are my age, you know one of the things we learn is, it’s not just what you say, it’s what you’ve done. And ladies and gentlemen, I’d just ask you, who is likely to be telling you the truth? Someone who’s spent 40 years of his life defending Medicare ... or these folks who’ve already demonstrated what they’re prepared to do.”

The Romney campaign responded to Biden's new attack on Social Security by citing a vote he took in a 1993 budget resolution that raised taxes on Social Security recipients making $34,000 a year.

The campaign also said the Obama campaign was basing its analysis of the GOP nominee's plans on “a flawed study,” not on anything the Romney campaign has actually produced.

An Obama campaign official said Biden's 1993 vote was one to strengthen entitlement programs “as part of a balanced deficit reduction plan, not to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.”

michael.memoli@latimes.com
twitter.com/mikememoli

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