July 30, 2011

Manchin Hopes Legislators Find the Middle Ground in Debate | Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WASHINGTON — With three days left before the nation’s economy goes into default, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Friday he is still optimistic a bipartisan agreement can be reached.

Despite the heated debate in Washington, Manchin said in a conference call Friday he believes a debt ceiling solution will be reached before the Aug. 2 deadline.

“We’ll do whatever it takes,” Manchin said. “We’re right into this thing and we’re going to get this done. I’m still an optimist. We’re all in this and it will take all of us to work together for this great country. I’m willing to work 24/7 for the next four days to get this done.”

Manchin spoke on the senate floor Thursday afternoon, delivering what he said was a much needed apology lawmakers owe to the American people.

“I felt compelled to go to the floor yesterday to apologize to every West Virginian and every American,” he said. “I can only imagine what it must feel like to be watching this debate. I have said all along I will not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless I see a long-term fix. I knew we did it in West Virginia and we can do it in Washington.”

According to Manchin, current deficit reduction plans proposed by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., are to split on political lines.

“Boehner’s would cut $9 trillion in the deficit, last for six months and that would put us in an election year, which would basically be a fiasco,” Manchin said. “Reid’s cuts $2 trillion in the deficit and would last until 2012. Then all you’re worried about is the upcoming election. We have long-term plan and it takes $4 trillion dollars over the next 10 years to balance the budget according to every economist you ask. These are the only two vehicles on the table right now. That’s what they’re working off of and we’ll probably end up with a hybrid of the two.”

Manchin said the plan he currently finds most favorable is the Obama administration’s debt commission’s balanced budget approach. The deficit-reduction plan was created by a bipartisan group of senators referred to as the “Gang of Six.”

“I favor a balanced budget approach that is reasonable, rational and takes into consideration outside factors like natural disasters, wars and the economy,” Manchin said. “I’ve always subscribed to the balanced budget ideal. If we are going to do it, let’s vote up or down, not put conditions on it. We have said the debt commission is where we are going. It’s reasonable, rational and though it doesn’t do everything everyone wants, it works. It’s a balanced plan and if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans behind it. This is the only plan that has everyone in the same room together. That’s what I would vote on.”

Based on his experience raising the credit rating during his tenure as governor of West Virginia, Manchin said the nation’s credit rating is his biggest concern.

“We had a dismal credit rating forever in West Virginia and, when I became governor, that was one of the things I wanted to increase,” he said. “I worked over the course of my six-year term to improve that rating. I know how hard it is to get a credit rating upgrade following a downgrade. That will be terribly detrimental to our economy. If we lose that rating, we lose the confidence in our market. If we lose confidence in the international market, that’s something you can’t get back that easily.”

Manchin said the political posturing in Washington is not only preventing a compromise but alienating the American people.

“We shouldn’t be fighting over the same turf, but rather a guarantee that there will be a vote before the end of the year,” he said. “I just think you can’t govern from the right or the left. People should be concerned and be mad. You should question everyone who received your vote. I don’t care if they are a Democrat or a Republican, you have to be able to work with people. You have a problem if the people we vote in and send into office are not willing to compromise. People expect results. There are people who have been elected with good intentions but have wound up putting political posturing before the people.”

According to Manchin, allegations and “scare tactics” surrounding cuts to entities like social security, Medicare and Medicaid are false.

“They are scaring people about losing social security, Medicare and Medicaid, but that won’t happen,” he said. “The cost of living has had no increases for a time and may not have any for a time to come with the economy as sluggish as it is. We need to find a compromise on that. We’re going to work and we’re going to find a solution that protects COLA, social security, Medicare and Medicaid. We are concerned about services people rely on. We need to get rid of the fog, waste and abuse, but not what people rely on.”

Most of all, Manchin said he remains an optimist and doesn’t want fellow West Virginians to lose faith in the political process.

“People are saying Washington is broken,” he said. “I’m not letting Washington break me and the people of West Virginia shouldn’t let it break them.”

By:  Kate Coil