August 08, 2011

'Get Our Act Together' | West Virginia MetroNews

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he'd forgo his August vacation if Congress was serious about solving the debt crisis.

"We aught to get our act together and get back in Washington and do the long-term fix that needed to be done in the first place."

Manchin was in Charleston on Monday talking with business and labor leaders as well as workers about what they'd like to see happen on Capitol Hill.

"What would you do to change America?" Manchin asked. "To change the direction we're going and how to get ourselves out of the hole that's been dug."

He says the multi-step debt plan Congress finally agreed upon last week doesn't go far enough.

When Congress reconvenes next month, Manchin says it's going to be another battle against time and party affiliations to come up with $1.5 trillion in spending cuts before Thanksgiving.

Manchin hopes the S&P downgrade of the U.S. market from Triple-A to Double-A Plus will be a wake up call for members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

"I would think that this is more of a warning shot that says 'Hey guys, get your act together. This is ridiculous.'"

West Virginia's junior senator believes there are places where the government can cut back spending.

"Can the defense be cut back? Absolutely! Defense will be. Discretionary spending, to a certain extent, [will be cut]. We can't be everything to everybody and do everything we want to do. But we can take care of the basics if we set our priorities," Manchin said.

And two main priorities Manchin is determined to save are Social Security and Medicare. He says those are areas that need to be kept intact with the exception of weeding out fraud and abuse within the system.

Manchin says Washington should take a closer look at how West Virginia balances its budget and does business. He believes Congress could learn a thing or two.

"Pretty soon we're hoping it will be a little more common to have commonsense in Washington," he said.

Manchin doesn't believe congressional leaders will call members back from their break early. So he plans to spend part of his vacation traveling around the state, holding meetings like the one Monday in Charleston. He says what he learns from the people of West Virginia he'll take back to Capitol Hill and share with his colleagues.

By:  Staff Writers