Vice President Joe Biden offered an unprecedented defense of the Obama administration's $800 billion-plus stimulus bill to an audience of millions during Thursday night's debate, and even found a way to use what's been a political liability to attack Republican rival Paul Ryan.
The vice president's full-throated promotion of the stimulus "“ a program he oversaw after its 2009 passage "“ was a sharp departure for a White House that for most of President Obama's first term often avoided even mentioning the package, officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Ryan had just finished delivering a series of criticisms of the package, alleging it funneled billions to campaign contributors and special interests. But rather than change the subject, as the Obama administration often has done in the past, Biden went on the attack. He highlighted the fact Ryan had requested stimulus money for his congressional district in Wisconsin.
"This was such a bad program and he writes me a letter saying -- writes the Department of Energy a letter saying, "˜The reason we need this stimulus, it will create growth and jobs.' His words," Biden said.
Ryan, forced to acknowledge he had helped assist constituents apply for what he called "grants," shot back that the program sent money to foreign countries, but Biden continued.