November 20, 2011

Manchin: Congress wants Bowles-Simpson revival | CBS News

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Sunday the congressional supercommittee must "step aside" if they can't reach a deal on reducing the deficit before their Wednesday night deadline, and suggested that a substantial number of Congress members would be "stepping forward" to reintroduce a blueprint rejected by Congress in December 2010.

Manchin, in an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation," said failure by the supercommittee, which has been charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings before Thanksgiving as part of Congress' August deal to raise the debt limit, "cannot be accepted."

"We can't fail. We can't allow anybody to fail. I don't want to be a part of a generation that turned over the key to the next generation with the country in worse shape," Manchin told CBS' Bob Schieffer. "That's never happened before. I'm not going to stand still for that. I'll do everything I can."

Failure, however, appears increasingly likely: While Wednesday night is the committee's official deadline to reach an agreement, the members are legally required to make their plan public at least 48 hours before voting on it - which means that the committee must come to a deal by Monday night.

According to CNN, members of the super committee are now "focused on how to announce failure to reach a deal" rather than agree on a deal itself.

Manchin said there was still a significant body within Congress that was "supporting the group of 12," but noted that "If they can't get to a deal, then they're going to have to step aside and hopefully there will be enough of us stepping forward to basically reintroduce the Bowles-Simpson plan."

"That's really the one that we think has put this country back in our fiscal house in order, puts us back in shape," he added.

The Bowles-Simpson plan, a blueprint for reducing the deficit put forth by a presidential commission created in 2010, failed in December 2010 when only 11 of 18 commission members voted for it. Fourteen votes were needed to proceed with the process.

Manchin said Congress could not accept the risk of the supercommittee's failure, and emphasized that "We have a plan that's been tested."

"We've got to move quick," he said. "We have a plan that's been tested. It's been bipartisan from its inception. It stayed bipartisan and it grew. The gang of six morphed out of that. 140 of us now are standing as tall as we can. We want them to be bold and go big."

Manchin added that, "that being said, just think what would happen if we step forward if they don't come to an agreement. We step forward as a group, and we're saying, we're going to put this on the table and vote for it. We need leadership. We need leadership - from the White House to both the House and the Senate - stepping forward and embracing this plan."

The former West Virginia governor brushed off the idea that any party - or the president himself - secretly wanted the supercommittee to fail for purposes of political gain.

"I don't believe that anybody that is serving the public today, I don't believe any of my 99 colleagues and anybody in the 435 members of congress, the president or anybody wants us to fail," he said. "Again, how would you want to be associated as a generation that failed America?"

Still, Manchin said he was "frustrated" by the job Congress was doing, and that he felt he had to "apologize" to his constituents.

"I'm frustrated. I'm very frustrated. Our approval rating is 9 percent...We're still trying to find the 9 percent think we're doing a good job," Manchin said, referencing recent poll numbers pointing to dismal congressional approval ratings. "I haven't found them yet, no. I'm ashamed. I have to apologize for what we're doing."

When asked if Manchin would want President Obama to campaign for him in West Virginia, the moderate Senator just said "this is not a team sport."

By:  Lucy Madison