VP debate excerpt – Sequestration

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Excerpts from the Oct. 11, 2012 vice presidential debate on sequestration: 

PAUL RYAN: So they proposed a $478 billion cut to defense to begin with. Now we have another $500 billion cut to defense that’s lurking on the horizon. They insisted upon that cut being involved in the debt negotiations, and so we have a $1 trillion cut…

MARTHA RADDATZ: Let’s put the automatic defense cuts aside, OK?

RYAN: Right, OK.

RADDATZ: Let’s put those aside. No one wants that.

JOE BIDEN: I’d like to go back to that.

RADDATZ: But I want to know how you do the math and have this increase in defense spending?

BIDEN: Two trillion dollars.

RYAN: You don’t cut defense by a trillion dollars. That’s what we’re talking about.

RADDATZ: And what — what national security issues justify an increase?

BIDEN: Who’s cutting it by $1 trillion?

RYAN: We’re going to cut 80,000 soldiers, 20,000 Marines, 120 cargo planes. We’re going to push the Joint Strike Fighter out…

RADDATZ: Drawing down in one war and one war…

RYAN: If these cuts go through, our Navy will be the smallest — the smallest it has been since before World War I.

This invites weakness. Look, do we believe in peace through strength? You bet we do. And that means you don’t impose these devastating cuts on our military.

So we’re saying don’t cut the military by a trillion dollars. Not increase it by a trillion, don’t cut it by a trillion dollars.

RADDATZ: Quickly, Vice President Biden on this. I want to move on.

BIDEN: Look, we don’t cut it. And I might add, this so-called — I know we don’t want to use the fancy word “sequester,” this automatic cut — that was part of a debt deal that they asked for.

And let me tell you what my friend said at a press conference announcing his support of the deal. He said, and I’m paraphrase, We’ve been looking for this moment for a long time.

RYAN: Can I tell you what that meant?

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: We’ve been looking for bipartisanship for a long time.

BIDEN: And so the bipartisanship is what he voted for, the automatic cuts in defense if they didn’t act.

And beyond that, they asked for another — look, the military says we need a smaller, leaner Army, we need more special forces, we need — we don’t need more M1 tanks, what we need is more UAVs.

RADDATZ: Some of the military.

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Not some of the military. That was the decision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended to us and agreed to by the president. That is a fact.

RADDATZ: Who answers to a civilian leader.

BIDEN: They made the recommendation first.

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