Joe Biden’s career of intellectual dishonesty is one step short of the Aristotelian ideal: It has a beginning (his law-school plagiarism) and a middle (his later campaign-trail plagiarism), but his performance in the recent debate suggests that it is without end. From misrepresenting Paul Ryan’s legislative record to telling bald-faced lies about his own, the vice president offered a master class in the art of deception.
The Iraq War and the expenses associated with it have become politically unpopular; the same is true to a lesser extent of the war in Afghanistan. Biden blasted Ryan for “voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription-drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for [the] very wealthy. I was there. I voted against him.” No, he did no such thing. Biden, as the congressional record shows, voted for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as did the majority of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate. To extend the vice president’s MasterCard metaphor, his signature is right there on the receipt. He did vote against the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, only to support a much more costly entitlement expansion in the form of the Affordable Care Act.
As for the Bush tax cuts, it is true that Biden opposed them in the Senate — right before supporting them as a member of the Obama administration. The Bush tax cuts for those whom Democrats insist on calling “the rich” — families and small businesses with income in excess of $250,000 a year — entailed about $800 billion in forgone revenue according to government estimates. But the expensive part of the equation is the middle-class tax cuts, which added up to some $2.2 trillion in forgone revenue. The Obama-Biden ticket has consistently supported retaining those tax cuts — i.e., the large majority of the Bush tax cuts Biden says he opposes. Which is to say, Biden opposes the billions in tax cuts but supports the trillions in tax cuts, and therefore judges himself to be frugal.