ZANESVILLE, Ohio - Vice President Joe Biden extended an invitation to the media to check the veracity of his claims on Medicare, telling the press to "fact check me."
"What they're proposing, and this is a fact. I say to the press, 'Fact check me,'" Biden said at Zane Grey Elementary School in Zanesville. "What they're proposing will actually cause the Medicare trust fund that pays for the benefits when you go to the hospital, the doctor, etc., to run out of money, a sufficient amount of money by 2016. That's when it would hit the wall."
Republicans, he said, are "not actually preserving Medicare. They're for a whole new plan, vouchercare."
"They're going to give you a voucher, which is essentially a coupon, and it's going to be worth x-amount of dollars, and they're going to say to your mom, 'Mom go out there in that insurance market and bargain for the best deal you can get, including if you want to buy Medicare,'" he said. "If you're going to cost more to get the benefits you're now getting, they say, 'Mom go borrow it somewhere.' No, I'm serious, you've got to take it out of your pocket. Ladies and gentleman, that's not fair and that's not truthful. What they've told you is not on the level."
In his convention speech Thursday night, Biden said the Medicare trust fund would go bankrupt by 2016, an assertion multiple news outlets deemed as misleading. As the Washington Post reported, Medicare Part A includes a trust fund "that always seems to be on the edge of running dry, even though it is funded by a payroll tax paid by employees and employers. But even so, the payroll tax could pay most estimated expenditures for decades."
The vice president jabbed at Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, highlighting a comment made by Romney pollster Neil Newhouse, who said in an ABC News/Yahoo! News breakfast in Tampa last month, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers."
"By the way, it's amazing how they don't like to be fact checked, right? Isn't that amazing? 'We're not going to be bound by those fact checkers,'" Biden said of the Romney campaign.
The Romney campaign responded that reporters should definitely take the vice president up on his challenge.
"The Vice President knowingly and deliberately leveled false and discredited attacks," Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement released after Biden's speech. "This is further proof that the Obama Campaign is unable and unwilling to talk honestly or substantively about the most important issues driving the country. In an attempt to distract from President Obama's failed record, including unemployment remaining over 8 percent, labor force participation falling to three-decade lows, and our national debt passing $16 trillion, Vice President Biden is once again advancing fabricated and disproven attacks on Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan."
In Zanesville, Biden said he was eager to discuss the policies Republicans did not mention at their convention, telling the crowd, "They don't have the courage to tell you what these new policies are. I do. I've got the courage to tell you. I'm anxious to tell you."
"If you'd been dropped down from Mars and had been in a time capsule in the last hundred years, and you got dropped down from Mars and turned on the convention, and you heard him talking about Medicare, you'd think that really, you'd think they really cared about it. You'd think it's something they thought of," he said.
The vice president also accused Republicans of not acknowledging their own role in increasing the national debt.
"They got that clock running back there. They don't know that they had a whole bunch of Republicans running to get that clock moving the previous 20 years," Biden said to laughter from the crowd. "But they're right. They're right about one thing; we got to deal with the debt. They're right, but they talked about this great urgency to get it under control. The need to act now but not once, not one single time did they tell you that they rejected every single solitary offer. [Vice presidential candidate Paul] Ryan, Romney, the Republican congress rejected every effort to reduce the debt in the last four years."
Biden, who is campaigning in Ohio through the weekend and again on Wednesday, said that since he arrived in the Buckeye state, he has seen three television ads bashing President Obama, and said "it takes a lot of chutzpah" to run ads claiming Obama moved jobs out of the United States.
Biden has increased his references to the military in the past week after Romney failed to mention the troops in his speech at the Republican National convention. In Zanesville, Biden recounted the story of traveling back to the United States from Iraq with a "fallen angel" aboard his plane.
"I was leaving Iraq and I was in a C-17, it's a magnificent cargo aircraft, and before I got to the plane, General Odierno, one of our great generals, said 'Mr. Vice President, there will be a fallen angel going home with you.' I walked in and strapped in the cargo space, a coffin and a flag. In Iraq and Afghanistan they refer to those heroes we lost as the fallen angels," he said.
The vice president was introduced by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, whose convention speech Biden praised.
"He made it clear: Santa Claus is rooting for us to win," Biden said.