October 25, 2011

Manchin: Let’s work together to fix the nation | The Elkins Inter-Mountain

Frustrations with the turmoil of political maneuvering in Washington, D.C., have left U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., with two major concerns: jobs and the country's debt, he told media representatives in a telephone conference Monday.

Although Manchin has his own ideas on how to apply his common sense ideas to these issues, he said he also is seeking the opinions of his constituents while he tours West Virginia this week.

"We've got to get this country moving in the right direction," Manchin said.

Manchin told state media outlets Monday that government needs keep the jobs the U.S. currently has and figure out why so much employment has left the country. As an advocate of infrastructure, Manchin says investing in roads, bridges and more will help create employment in the U.S. and make the country more competitive with other nations.

"Every state has infrastructure needs," he said.

Just creating and keeping jobs will not be enough, though. Manchin says leaders need to work toward ensuring individuals have the correct skills and education needed for employment. When Congress reconvenes on Monday, Manchin will introduce and co-sponsor legislation that will require unemployment benefit recipients to acquire additional training or education.

Manchin also expressed his concern with free trade deals, which go with trade assistance programs to help workers who will be displaced. He said that if the government is funding trade agreement, the deals aren't working as planned; and therefore he has voted against the three recent agreements. It's estimated that with one free trade agreement, 250,000 jobs would be lost, but 1 to 2 million new jobs would be gained. Other trade agreements have not produced the jobs, otherwise the government would not have to make plans to subsidize displaced workers.

"If that's the case, we've done enough trade deals in the past," Manchin said.

As high unemployment rates plague the economy, the nation's debt continues to mount. The coupling of the two have many Americans concerned, and Manchin says the problem is causing lawmakers to "make cowardly decisions."

"All you're doing is trying to rob Peter to pay Paul to get through the day," he said.

As a remedy, Manchin is hoping for tax reforms for the most wealthy Americans - those who are able to hire the best attorneys and accountants to find tax loopholes that enable them to legally pay fewer taxes.

Through it all, Manchin says bills that have been introduced recently are not the best solutions to move the country forward. Instead, he said, the legislation and votes cast by Congress will be used to build future political campaigns.

By:  Carra Higgins