Vice President Joe Biden pointed to Rep. Paul Ryan's budget as an example of Republicans adhering to a "different value set" than Democrats when it comes to reforming Social Security and Medicare, issues that he called "a family affair."
"These are decent, honorable men and women. I'm not playing the game that these guys are bad guys. They just have a different value set as to what is the most important thing that we should be doing," Biden said of congressional Republicans Monday during the White House Community Leaders briefing on senior issues.
"Folks, we'd be much better off if we spent a lot less energy fighting off efforts to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid, get rid of the Affordable Health Care Act, and more time working to figure out how to provide better health for the American people and preserve Medicare and Medicaid," he said later.
The vice president cited a phrase used by his father: "Don't tell me what you value; Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value." Biden argued that the Ryan budget and Republicans' eagerness to extend the Bush tax cuts show the GOP is willing to sacrifice the interests and well being of senior citizens in order to extend tax cuts to the wealthy in America.
"They've made a clear choice: lower the standard of living for those on Medicare and Medicaid rather than ask anything of the wealthiest among us," Biden said.
Biden highlighted how the various versions of the Ryan budget would affect senior citizens, saying it "dismantled Medicare" and was "overwhelmingly rejected by the American people."
"This year, they came back with one that's more subtle, but it really didn't change. It didn't change the core of what they want to do. They're still pushing Medicare vouchers. It's a plan that would still mean higher cost for almost everyone who depends on Medicare. And that goes for Medicaid too."
While he stressed that he was not saying Republicans "don't care about the elderly," Biden did accuse them of placing future generations in jeopardy by not working with Democrats to properly reform the existing Medicare and Social Security systems.
"I love how they do this shell-on-the-pea game. Don't worry; you should not worry about it; you should be for these changes; Social Security's going to preserve you, but it's going to really nail your kids," Biden said. "I'm serious! That's the reality! I know I have a bad reputation of speaking plainly. I'm going to continue to speak plainly. It's served me well my whole life."
As he shared how he and his siblings stretched their money to offer support and care to his parents in their final years, Biden joked about the pay raise he received when he assumed the vice presidency.
"You pay me a lot of money as vice president of the United States," Biden said to some laughter from the crowd. "As the president said when we had our first Cabinet - our first meeting a couple of weeks after we were all sworn in. He thanked everybody for the sacrifices they made, and then he looked and caught my eye, and he said, except Joe. He got a pay raise."