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Biden accuses Romney, Ryan of deficit hypocrisy

By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau –

FORT MYERS, Fla.—Vice President Joe Biden accused Republicans Saturday of hypocrisy over the budget, mocking “how they bleed over the national debt” despite a role in driving it up.

Campaigning in a heavily Republican county in southwest Florida, the vice president specifically criticized Republican counterpart Paul Ryan for rejecting bipartisan proposals that would reduce the deficit, a possible preview of his strategy for their upcoming debate.

In his speech accepting the Republican nomination for vice president, Ryan had criticized President Barack Obama for discarding the recommendations of his own deficit reduction panel, known as Simpson-Bowles.

Biden reminded more than 2,000 supporters at a community center here that Ryan himself was a part of that commission.

“He wouldn’t even vote to let it get to the United States House of Representatives and Senate to vote on it. Why?” Biden said. “Because they will not vote for a single solitary reduction in the debt if it includes one dollar in new taxes for millionaires. Not even one dollar. That’s a fact.”

Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said neither Obama nor Biden have credibility on debt reduction.

“Over the last four years, the Obama-Biden team has presided over the largest increase in the national debt of any administration in history. And President Obama’s latest spending plan is riddled with accounting gimmicks and tax hikes, rather than policies that will get our long-term debt under control,” she said.

Romney and Ryan “will take immediate steps to cut spending and put our nation on track toward a balanced budget,” she added.

Ryan was one of 18 members of the president’s bipartisan fiscal commission, headed by former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson and former Bill Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles. The panel’s final proposal received 11 votes, three shy of the number that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had promised would prompt full consideration in the Senate.

Biden also noted that Romney indicated he would not support a deficit reduction package that includes $1 in new taxes for every $10 in spending.

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