Heading into the debate, the two campaigns clashed repeatedly in ever tougher tones since the first presidential debate shook up the race.
Most notably, Romney has appeared to stake out or emphasize more moderate parts of his agenda, and the Obama-Biden campaign has all but accused the Romney-Ryan ticket of lying to paper over the more conservative message that Romney used to win his partys nomination.
On Medicare, Obama wants to retain the traditional system, relying on the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to extend the life of the program by raising fees, and shaving $716 billion from anticipated payments to health care providers.
Ryan accuses Obama of looking to loot Medicare of $716 billion to help pay for the health care law, but Ryan used the same $716 billion in savings in the 10-year budget he proposed as chairman of the House Budget Committee. Hes since backtracked from his plan, and Romney insists hed return the money to Medicare.
We are not going to jeopardize Medicare, Ryan said.
Romney vows to repeal Obamas health care act and would replace the system. Starting in 2023, hed give people checks to buy Medicare or private insurance. Hes said his plan is more efficient and allows seniors to make their own choices. Ryan had proposed a similar plan that would cap the amount of those government checks, or vouchers, but Romney would not cap them.
Obama said Romneys plan would see healthier individuals being covered by private insurance companies, leaving the most ill and vulnerable with a frayed Medicare system.
On taxes, Obama wants to raise taxes on incomes above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families.
Romney promises to cut tax rates across the board, which by itself would add nearly $5 trillion to the deficit, according to an independent analysis. Romney denies that it would cost that much, noting at the last debate that he would propose unspecified offsets, such as limits on deductions that would ensure that wealthier Americans end up paying the same share of the countrys taxes as they do now.
Biden argued that Obama has led with a steady and solid foreign policy from Afghanistan and Iraq to the Middle East. The president has led with a steady hand and a clear vision, he said.