November 16, 2011

Manchin: Job creation is top priority, Senator reflects on first year in office | The Dominion Post

Jobs, jobs and more jobs are some of Sen. Joe goals as he moves into his second year in federal office.  

Energy independence and deficit reduction are on the list, too. 

Tuesday was (D-W.Va.) one-year anniversary in the U.S. Senate. He won the late Robert Byrd’s seat in a special election. He reflected on his first year in office and looked to the future during a conference call with reporters from across the state.   

“The biggest thing is to create jobs. It’s still creating jobs,”  said.   

Another big priority for the senator is getting the country’s financial house in order.  said if the country is not financially strong, it is not in a position to help anybody.   

But  said the country needs to take care of its veterans, seniors and children — those often without a voice. When he first got to office there were talks about cutting Medicare, Social Security and other programs to reduce debt, but called those ideas “ridiculous.”

Though government programs could be run more efficiently, he said.  

The country also needs a fair tax system,  said. Nobody should see a tax rate increase. He said loopholes that allow companies to move jobs overseas and make money and not pay taxes should be changed.

“We could lower the tax rate if everybody paid it,” he said. 

The former governor said he would not support extending the current payroll tax cut that is set to expire soon. He said he is not aware of any employer hiring people because of the cut that reduces the amount a business has to pay toward Social Security tax.   

Seventy percent of the money the federal government receives should go to debt reduction and the other 30 percent should go to infrastructure improvements,  said.

Manchin said he is helping to create a resolution to urge leaders to accept a bipartisan plan to help improve the fiscal responsibility of the country. Forty-four senators have already signed the resolution.   

“We have a chance to go big and fix things. We have a chance to truly make a difference not only in this country, but this world,”  said.

Manchin said he also would like to work on an energy policy for the country. He noted there are several types of energy produced in West Virginia, including coal, natural gas, wind and hydropower.  

The health care act should be reformed,  said, and he has not given up his effort to get it changed.

Over the past year,  said he has met with the other 99 members of the Senate to get to know them. He has also traveled more than 18,000 miles to 45 West Virginia counties to bring Washington to the state. His staff has visited all 55 counties.

Manchin said there are always things someone wishes they could have done differently. He wished he had better explained his position to colleagues and federal agencies.   

The Morgantown Municipal Airport recently was under the federal government’s microscope. The airport is set to lose its Essential Air Service (EAS) funding because it is within 90 miles of another metro-airport — Pittsburgh International. The EAS provides subsidies to air carriers to fly to certain areas.  said he was upset the Senate did not accept Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-W.Va.) plan to convert the determining factor for EAS from mileage to ridership.

Asked if he would support President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign,  said he is evaluating his support. 

The country has lots of problems and people are worried about the election,  said. He added he wants this president, or any president, to do well. But he said the President — as well as other officer holders such as himself — are evaluated on results.

Manchin said he is not happy with the results so far under Obama and people are not happy with the results they are seeing from Congress. He added it’s going to take people reaching across the political aisle to get anything done.   

“We’re at a 9 percent approval rating,”  said. “Let me tell you, I can’t find the 9 percent of the people that think we did something right. With all that being said, there’s been failure from leadership from the top to bottom. But, people got to want to come together.”

By:  Alex Lang