A Mountain of Malarkey: Three Terrific Moments From The 2012 Ryan-Biden Debate

By: Meredith Kelly


This evening, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence will meet head to head for the first and only vice presidential debate of this election. We are sure that Pence will have his hands full having to answer for his running mate’s (latest) stunningly bad week. But today’s debate also affords us the opportunity to turn back the clock and recall when Trump’s highest-ranking Republican backer, Paul Ryan, had his moments of glory debating Vice President Joe Biden. Momentous glorious meltdown, that is.

In preparation for tonight, here are our top three great Paul Ryan “Malarkey Moments” from the 2012 VP debate that we are certain the Speaker would rather forget:

Malarkey Moment 1: Paul Ryan Thinks He’s JFK, Is Swiftly Corrected

In an attempt to defend outrageous tax cuts that would benefit the nation’s highest earners, Paul Ryan tried to ham-handedly compare himself to…JFK? Vice President Biden naturally would have none of it:

RYAN: You can — you can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle-class taxpayers…

BIDEN: Not mathematically possible…It has never been done before.

RYAN: Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth. Ronald Reagan…

BIDEN: Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy?


RYAN: Ronald Reagan — Republicans and Democrats…

BIDEN: This is amazing.

Malarkey Moment 2: Paul Ryan Blasts Stimulus Money (Just Before Admitting He Asked For Millions)

This one’s great. After debate moderator Martha Raddatz asked a question about the Obama administration’s stimulus package, Paul Ryan thought he saw an opportunity to criticize the stimulus as “crony capitalism.” Only one problem: as Vice President Biden helpfully noted, Paul Ryan had personally requested stimulus money for Wisconsin businesses on multiple occasions:

RYAN: They passed the stimulus. The idea that we could borrow $831 billion, spend it on all of these special interest groups, and that it would work out just fine, that unemployment would never get to 8 percent — it went up above 8 percent for 43 months… Crony capitalism and corporate welfare.


BIDEN: And I love my friend here. I — I’m not allowed to show letters but go on our website, he sent me two letters saying, “By the way, can you send me some stimulus money for companies here in the state of Wisconsin?” We sent millions of dollars. You know…

RADDATZ: You did ask for stimulus money, correct?

BIDEN: Sure he did. By the way…

RYAN: On two occasions we — we — we advocated for constituents who were applying for grants. That’s what we do. We do that for all constituents who are…

BIDEN: I love that. I love that.

Malarkey Moment 3: Paul Ryan, “Policy Guy”, Provides Answers Embarrassingly Short On Policy

When Paul Ryan began discussing the claim that Americans’ taxes across the board would be cut by 20%, it begged a good question…how would the government pay for such dramatic cuts? As it turns out, Paul Ryan didn’t seem to know either:

RADDATZ: Well, let’s talk about this 20 percent. You have refused — and, again — to offer specifics on how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Do you actually have the specifics? Or are you still working on it, and that’s why you won’t tell voters?

RYAN: Different than this administration, we actually want to have big bipartisan agreements. You see, I understand the…

RADDATZ: Do you have the specifics? Do you have the…

BIDEN: That would — that would be a first for the Republican Congress.

RADDATZ: Do you know exactly what you’re doing?

RYAN: Look — look at what Mitt Romney — look at what Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did. They worked together out of a framework to lower tax rates and broaden the base, and they worked together to fix that… so we can lower tax rates across the board. Now, here’s why I’m saying this. What we’re saying is, here’s the framework…

BIDEN: I hope I’m going to get time to respond to this.

RADDATZ: You’ll get time.

RYAN: We want to work with Congress — we want to work with the Congress on how best to achieve this. That means successful. Look…

RADDATZ: No specifics, again.

Enjoy the debate, Speaker Ryan!