November 16, 2011

Manchin marks his first year as senator | Parkersburg News and Sentinel

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Manchin had been a U.S. senator for one year. The senator, who was elected in a special election last year to fill out the remainder of the term of the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, held a telephone press conference with media outlets from around the state from his Capitol office to highlight what he feels he has accomplished in his first year and what he wants to work on for the future.

Manchin continually talked about his drive to bring a common sense approach to government in Washington, D.C.

''I have been trying to bring government closer to the people of West Virginia,'' he said. He said he wants to instill in the U.S. Congress the common sense approach West Virginians use in their everyday lives in dealing with challenges.

Manchin has met with each of his 99 colleagues in the Senate to get to know them and their families to find common ground on issues facing the nation and they can work together on, he said.

Neither party has the votes to do anything in Congress without support from the other party, Manchin said.

''It will take reaching across that aisle to get those votes,'' Manchin said.

The senator and his staff have made regular visits around the state, holding town hall meetings and connecting residents with needed services.

His focus remains on job development in all sectors as well as education to train the workers for the 21st century economy, Manchin said.

''Jobs, jobs and more jobs,'' he said. ''That is my priority.''

To create new opportunities, the U.S. government has to get its financial house in order by acting responsibly in cutting spending where needed and eliminating billions in waste, the senator said. Having strong finances allows the U.S. to help its own people and others, he added.

''If we are not strong financially then we will not be in any position to help anyone else,'' Manchin said.

He believes this can be done without having to cut programs like Head Start or Medicare.

Manchin said he wants to work on helping to create a fair tax system for everyone that allows the government to meet its responsibilities.

Manchin talked about a new bipartisan push to encourage the supercommittee, tasked with making cuts to prevent the U.S. from defaulting, to find at least $4 trillion in deficit reduction that includes long-term entitlement reform and pro-growth tax reform.

Manchin continued his vocal support of the state's coal industry while talking about the misconceptions many elected officials have about coal.

''In West Virginia, we do it all,'' he said. ''We have natural gas, coal, wind and more. We can be energy independent.''

Manchin said the state can achieve energy independence within this generation through the development of the Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits and other resources.

There is a feeling with many lawmakers and federal regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency that using coal is bad and many are trying to hinder its use, he said.

However, Manchin said he wants to be able to use the resources in the state, taking advantage of clean-burning technologies, and to make reasonable transitions to alternatives over time once they are available. He said coal amounts to a large portion of available energy in the U.S.

''Right now, there is nothing in line to change that,'' he said of any alternatives that can provide the energy needs that coal provides.

He believes some people in Washington are beginning to listen to what he has to say on the matter and hopes he can continue to soften some of the viewpoints taken.

Manchin said he wants to work on creating a tax system that is fair to everyone and one that could lower corporate tax rates if everyone paid. He wants to work on reforming the national health care act rather than repeal it outright, he said.

Manchin said he wants any U.S. president to succeed, whether Democrat or Republican, if he is working in the best interest of the American people.

The election is still a year off and many elected officials are more worried about it than the problems 

By:  Brett Dunlap