Explaining Southern California's economy

Vice presidential debate: 5 (and a half) economic battles Biden and Ryan will fight

Vice President Joe Biden and Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan

Alex Wong/Getty Images and Mandel Ngan/AFP/GettyImages

Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will get their big chance tonight to duke it out for their respective tickets as the Presidential campaign enters its final weeks.

Gaffe-prone Vice President Joe Biden and buffed-up Republican VP nominee Paul Ryan will trade barbs Thursday in the Bluegrass State. The garrulous, off-the-cuff Biden, 69, will likely offer vivid contrast with his much younger opponent, who at 42 is the wonky wunderkind of Congress.

Biden has run for President a couple of times, and his expertise is in foreign policy. Ryan has a reputation as a number-cruncher who can drill down into the weeds of economic policy. Given that the country still has not shaken off the Great Recession, it is reasonable to expect the two men to lock horns on economic issues. Here are five-and-half ones they'll most likely tackle.

Medicare and Medicaid. In his "Path to Prosperity" 2012 budget proposal, Ryan and the GOP proposed a radical — and there's really no other way to describe it — reform of government-supported health care for the elderly and the poor. The end result of Ryan's plan doesn't look terribly extreme, but by turning Medicare into a voucher system — in theory, giving seniors control over their own health-care choices — the Congressional Budget Office estimates that seniors could end up paying thousands of dollars more in health care expenses on a yearly basis. The White House also proposes to reform Medicare, via the Affordable Care Act. Both plans target the same problem: Swelling future Medicare costs threaten to render the entitlement insolvent.

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Big Bird doesn't need PBS — he has Kickstarter!

Waves of support and concern for the large iconic yellow Muppet have washed toward Sesame Street since Wednesday night's first Presidential debate, when Mitt Romney told moderator Jim Lehrer that although he loves both him and Big Bird, if he were in the Oval Office, they'd be...

Fired!

So let's say Romney wins and gets his way. Big Bird is out of a job, along with the rest of the Muppets. They might do okay, because as we learned earlier this year, the Muppets are clients of Goldman Sachs, the very investment bank that has been accused of using the term "muppets" to refer derisively to clients.

Meanwhile, Big Bird might not really have anything to worry about. 

Why?

Crowdfunding.

As it turns out, "I Am Big Bird," a proposed feature-length documentary about the life and times of Carroll Spinney, the man behind the feathers — actually, inside the feathers — since 1969 successfully raised $124,114 on Kickstarter. An outfit called Copper Pot Pictures is behind the project.

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