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10 Questions to Ask at the Vice Presidential Debate?

Tonight’s debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan is supposed to cover both domestic and foreign policy. The Heritage Foundation’s policy experts have submitted 10 questions they would like to see asked in the debate.

Watch with us tonight—we will be streaming the debate live at 9 p.m. ET on our Debate 2012 page, with an experts’ live blog.


1. Obamacare takes $716 billion out of Medicare to fund Obamacare. This includes $156 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage. Currently, 27 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, which is a private alternative to traditional Medicare. The Medicare Chief Actuary projects that by 2017, Obamacare’s severe cuts will decrease enrollment in Medicare Advantage by 50 percent and result in less generous benefit packages for those who do remain in the program. What changes would you make, if any, to ensure that these seniors are able to keep their current Medicare Advantage plan?

2. Patient choice is working well within Medicare and other government health programs. In addition to the private plans in Medicare Advantage, there are 1,100 plans in the Medicare drug program and hundreds of plans in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. None of these plans use “vouchers”; they receive a direct government contribution toward the cost of the plans. Would you expand patient choice in Medicare? Why or why not?

3. Most people under the age of 40 will pay more in Social Security taxes than they will receive in benefits, and Medicare adds to federal deficits faster than any other government spending program. How would you focus entitlement reform on reducing spending?

4. Under Obamacare, the Health and Human Services (HHS) preventive services mandate requires nearly all employers to cover abortion drugs and contraception regardless of religious or moral objection, effectively exempting only formal houses of worship. Should Americans be able to live out their faith commitments outside the four walls of their church—in the public square and in the way they run their businesses or non-profits?

5. It has been almost four years since the federal government took control of General Motors. Vice President Biden has said the bailout of the firm was a success. Was this a success? Why or why not? And when should the federal government sell the shares it still owns?


1. The United States has a long tradition of respect for freedom of speech and expression, which is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. After the recent conflagrations in Egypt, Libya, and in other Middle Eastern countries, the Obama Administration first blamed a YouTube video that it deemed offensive—even though now it has come out that our ambassador was killed in a terrorist attack, not by people protesting this video. How will you react to any future exercise of free speech on American soil that causes controversy, here or abroad?

2. The campaigns have focused heavily on the economic challenge posed by China. What will you do to address the political and security challenge that a rising China presents for the U.S. and its allies in the Pacific?

3. Both Russia and China have claimed that the U.S. missile defense system is destabilizing. What is your position on the role of the missile defense system in the overall U.S. defense posture; should the missile defense system be installed or abandoned, and why?

4. Canada is eliminating tariffs on products that are used as inputs by the country’s manufacturers. Should the United States adopt a similar tariff-elimination policy to boost the competitiveness of U.S. companies?

5. Members of Congress and the Administration have acknowledged that the cuts to national security under sequestration will have dire, potentially irreversible effects. For Vice President Biden: How does the Administration plan to deal with these cuts if they go into effect? For Congressman Ryan: How would your Administration handle this challenge differently from the current one?

Watch the debate with Heritage tonight starting at 9 p.m. ET—you can watch it live, streaming on our Debate 2012 page. On the page, you can also follow our experts’ live blog of their reactions and chime in on Twitter.

Other Questions