Martin Bashir | October 12, 2012
>>> voters learned last night that for a man who described himself as a numbers guy , paul ryan is one of the worst mathematicians in america. for instance, his zero tolerance policy on stimulus money, well, that comes with an asterisk.
>> sure, he did.
>> on two occasions we advocated for skaents who were applying for grants. that's what we did. we do that for all constituents --
>> i love that. this is such a bad program and he writes the department of energy saying the reason we need this stimulus, it will create growth and jobs.
>> indeed. numbers plagued mr. ryan so much during thursday's debate that he nearly forgot who he was.
>> you can cut tax rates by 20% and still preserve these important preferences for middle class taxpayers.
>> not mathematically possible.
>> it is possible. it's been done before.
>> it has never been done bofer.
>> it's been done a couple times. jack kennedy lowers tax rates and --
>> now you're jack kennedy .
>> joining us now here in new york is salon.com's joan walsh and in washington michael scherer white house correspondent for "time."
>> did i not know jack kennedy . he was not a friend of mine but i feel confident in saying paul ryan is no jack kennedy . would you agree?
>> i would agree with that. and he walked right into that. he wahanded that to joe biden and it was hilarious. michael , my friend, literally my friend, not in the joe biden sense, michael is my friend, is in the beltway, i don't mean to dispaur raj beltway reporters, but paul ryan has been given such a pass. he has a reputation for being a worngy guy, good at the numbers. his numbers have never added up. he has this reputation for being a deficit hawk . as joe biden said he voted for the wars, for the new medicare --
>> the prescription drug benefit.
>> he voted --
>> the bush tax cuts .
>> the bush tax cuts , all of the bush budgets. he voted for a bush stimulus. in addition to voting against obama stimulus but asking for money, he voted for bush stimulus and he described it in his speeches. he was a kecanesian. he's never been forced to be consistent and yet he's hailed as this great economist, this great numbers thinker.
>> michael , ryan still had no answer, as joan said shall as to how he'd pay for a 20% across the board tax cut . martha raddatz asked at least twice. mike, have you ever heard a politician make such a promise to the electorate yet not even try, not even attempt to provide one detail when asked?
>> well, here is what the campaign will say and here is what ryan wasn't saying explicitly on that stage because it's a hard thing to argue. it's that they believe that if you give this sort of tax cut , there will be economic growth that's not projected now that we can then add to the amount of revenue the government takes in. it's a republican argument that's been used basically since the '80s consistently and most of the time it doesn't work. every now and then it's true, you do get this big economic boost, and that boost revenues, and then all of a sudden you can pay for it. the problem is in washington the congress budget office and those people who score these things don't score this methodology. romney cannot go to congress and say there's going to be an extra 1% or 2% growth that i'm projecting because a couple people have written blog posts that say it's reasonable and, therefore, we can say it's all going to not add to the deficit. if romney goes to congress and tries to put through that plan, the result will be a score that says you are adding to the deficit, and he will either have to at that point try to convince all of the american people that the cbo is wrong or he will have to pull back on his proposal. and so that's really where this discussion is right now. ryan and romney are relying on an accounting prediction that is not really predictable. you can't bank on it. it could happen, probably won't.
>> michael , many people would call that an outright lie. joan, by my count joe biden mentioned the magic number 47% on at least five o kitions. how effectively do you think mr. biden used the secret tape where romney was waxing lyrical about his con terpt for half the population.
>> i thought those were his finest moments . he had -- he mentioned it several times but he had two separate times when he talked to martha and he talked to the audience, and he said that you're talking about my parents, you're talking about my neighbors, you're talking about the people i grew up with in scranton, you're talking about seniors, and you're talking about the military. and he made it vivid in a way that few of us, myself included i feel, have really made that number vivid. he also, you know, again, not going to bash president obama again, but he did give a rationale for their administration and for the re-election, that they have a very different view of the role of government in creating the middle class , that we did it once before in the '30s, '40s, '50s, and '60s and we can do it again and the middle class just needs a fair shot. i felt that was the most heartfelt and emotional portions of his presentation, and i think that they're very effective. people are talking about his laughter, about you when you show those couple moments and you see his passion talking to people directly, i think it's so effective and devastating. paul ryan looks like an accountant whose numbers don't add up.
>> michael , final opportunity for you, do you think mr. biden has stole the limited momentum that romney appeared to have last week?
>> well, he at least changed the conversation. we're no longer talking about how barack obama is a terrible debater and may have given away the election a week ago which is good for barack obama . i don't know if this debate will move polls, it will probably stop a slide that was already slowing and all that will matter from here on on is the performance of obama and romney . i think the public will come away from this slightly more informed than they were before and it was a pretty entertaining debate to watch but it's not the kind of debate that will decide the election. vice presidential debates rarely do.
>> it could close the enthusiasm gap.
>> but obama has to deliver on that. it can go away just as quickly.