That’s a word Rep. Paul Ryan used in the vice-presidential debate last night in response to a question about abortion that should be repeated incessantly on the campaign trail. The non-answers Vice President Joe Biden offered up when Ryan challenged unelected elites who routinely bypass Congress as they reshape public policy suggests the Democrats know they are playing defense on constitutional questions.
Here is what moderator Martha Raddatz asked toward the end of the debate:
“I want to go back to the abortion question here. If the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?”
Instead of accepting the premise of the question, Ryan told Raddatz that it is not the role of the U.S. Supreme Court to reset policy, and that weighty matters like abortion should be subject to an up and down vote in the legislative branch.
“We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process should make this determination.”
In his non-answer, Biden referenced Judge Robert Bork and the potential for new openings on the U.S. Supreme Court. Bork, who was President Reagan’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987, scandalized then Sen. Biden by hewing a bit too closely to what the U.S. Constitution actually says.
Earlier in the debate, when Raddatz asked about Medicare and entitlement reform, Ryan took on Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
“…they put this new Obamacare board in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors,” he explained. “This board, by the way, it’s 15 people, the president’s supposed to appoint them next year. And not one of them even has to have medical training.”
(See my previous post on legal challenge to IPAB from the Goldwater Institute)
In his non-answer, Biden referenced Sarah Palin, the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, and the “death panel.” But he declined to challenge Ryan on the merits of the IPAB.
“Unelected” is a word that can connect with average voters who are still keen on the idea of “checks and balances” and the “separation of powers” between the various branches.
To paraphrase the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, who joined with Biden, to mount a smear campaign against Judge Bork back in 1987 — “Joe Biden’s America is a land where unelected, unaccountable elites are permitted to operate beyond the boundaries of constitutional restraints to impose big government schemes on an unsuspecting public that would never pass muster in a transparent, open debate.”
Something like that is in order on the campaign trail.