August 23, 2011

Manchin: I hear WV's concerns | Logan Banner

WILLIAMSON — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin has been touring the state talking to the residents of West Virginia about what concerns them.

He said he plans to take those concerns back to Washington.

"I came here to southern West Virginia to find out what truly is concerning them and what their fears are about this country," Manchin said last Monday at his stop in Williamson. "This is a great country and we can fix everything that you might think is wrong."

Manchin said fixing the country's problems will take Democrats and Republicans working together.

"We have to work as Americans and as West Virginians. I've told people we don't have a red and blue problem. We have a red, white and blue problem," Manchin said. "You can't be thinking of your own political fate or your party's fate. You better be thinking of the country first."

Manchin heard the concerns of the people gathered in the packed Mingo County Commission courtroom at the Mingo County Courthouse. Concerns ranged from the wars the country is currently fighting, the debt crisis, jobs, foreign relations and the war on coal by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"If we have the purpose of fixing our country; fixing the finances; have a balanced approach; shut down the off-sets, credits and giveaways; and quit giving preferential treatment for companies that go offshore to make products that are sold back to America and the companies keep their money and don't pay any taxes," Manchin said. "We need to have a system that is fair and puts America back to work."

The senator also addressed the growing drug problem the coalfields are facing.

"We've got to get people off their dependencies, whether it's prescription drugs or illegal drugs and get them back in the workforce," Manchin said. "I'm committed to do everything I can to make that happen."

Manchin said the concerns of West Virginians are mostly the same across the state.

"People are concerned about Social Security and Medicare," Manchin said. "They're trying to scare the people who are receiving Social Security and Medicare. That's not going to happen. They're not going to change. We're going to support them. But, we're going to get rid of the fraud abuse, such as people scamming the system or any type of business or medical facility that is scamming the system. We've got to get rid of that.

"The good people who have paid into it and they have worked and are getting it, they should be the ones who never have to worry. That's what we're trying to solidify. They keep telling me how they are scared we're going to take things away or cut their checks. That's not going to happen. These people have worked for it and depend on it and we're going to make sure they get it. The fraud abuse and waste has to be cut out and everyone agrees on that."

Manchin said education is another issue about which people in West Virginia worry.

"We want to give our children a chance in life by committing ourselves to education," Manchin said. "We have to make sure we get kids prepared to work in the 21st century. I think we've done that with the new Mingo County Comprehensive High School. The students there have a facility that is next to none and it gives them an opportunity for a good education and we have to make the most of that. We have to make sure that works. I think the dedication you have in the new school and all the facilities that go with it are unbelievable."

Manchin said mining coal is key to West Virginia's and the country's future.

"We want to make sure we are able to mine the coal that this country needs and to find an energy balance," Manchin said. "The people of West Virginia tell me they don't want agencies overregulating. They are killing our growth because people aren't certain of what they can and cannot do. Every time they do something, the mines get shut down. They want that stopped. We're fighting all these fronts."

Manchin said he hears the concerns and will take those back to Washington.

"We're trying to bring some sensibility and balance to this system," Manchin said. "That's what I hear from West Virginians — they want balance.

"The challenges in Washington are great, but the opportunities are even greater. The whole world depends on us making the right decisions," Manchin said. "When they see we can't even conduct ourselves in a civil manner to fix the financial problems of this country, people are really skeptical and they get scared and the markets reflect that. A question I hear is: 'Can we really govern as Americans?' Let's put our differences and our politics aside and do what's best for our nation. We've got to go back and fix this thing and come together like never before. I'm serious about fixing things. I'm reaching out, talking to Republicans and Democrats and trying to bring people together and I'm going to continue to work on that."


By:  Michael Browning