August 08, 2014

Manchin meets Marine Corps | Charleston Daily Mail

Although there seems to be a plethora of problems in Congress, Sen. Joe Manchin remains confident they can be fixed.

But, the Democrat said, it’s going to take a change in the atmosphere to accomplish that.

Manchin spoke Thursday at the Marine Corps League National Convention in Charleston. Manchin, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he’s learned a lot in his nearly four years in the Senate about veterans care and foreign policy. He said he was surprised to learn from former Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen that the country’s greatest threat comes from the inside.

“Chairman Mullen was asked what was the biggest threat to the United States,” Manchin said. “I knew Libya was falling apart. The Afghan and Iraqi wars were still in progress. We had so much unrest. We had Iran trying to get nuclear weapons, China was a bull in a china shop so to speak supporting Iran and we had Russia and Syria and all the intricacies of the world. I thought I’m gonna hear it now. He never hesitated or blinked. He said the finances of the United States of America, our country, was the biggest threat we faced.”

But there’s a way to negate that threat, Manchin said, and that is to curtail spending. But he admitted that’s hard to do because members of Congress continue to blame members of the opposing party.

“We’ve got to get back to financial solid footing and that means we have to curtail our spending,” Manchin said. “If you’re a Republican and you say Democrats spend too much and they continue to throw money away, you’re right. If you’re a Democrat and you say Republicans put us in this position, the last time we had a balanced budget was 2001 and Republicans put us $10 trillion in debt, you’re right. So no matter what side of the fence you’re on, you’re right if you want to blame people. If you want to fix things, quit blaming everybody and let’s sit down and get a budget together.”

Budget woes haven’t been the only problem affecting the country. Recently, reports of the Department of Veterans Affairs of misrepresenting the number of patients seen at health care clinics and how long veterans were made to wait for care. Congress recently passed legislation aimed at reforming the system and ensuring veterans have access to quality care, something the Marines in attendance applauded. Manchin suggested the federal VA should take a cue from Alaska, which has zero VA health care clinics. In that state, veterans have access to any health care facility and are given priority.

“This is not rocket science,” Manchin said. “They want you to think it’s so complicated. You don’t have to throw a ton of money at something that you think will fix the problem.”

As far as threats abroad, Manchin said he thinks the U.S. is better off playing a supporting role rather than getting directly involved in conflict. He said leaving 10,000 troops in Afghanistan won’t help relieve any troubles in the region. People living in that country have more pride in their tribes and ethnic groups than they do in their country as a whole, he said.

“It’s a whole different approach,” he said.

More than 1,000 Marines from across the country attended this year’s national convention, held at Charleston’s Embassy Suites. Thursday afternoon, the Marine Corps League Military Order of the Devil Dog donated $23,000 to Charleston Area Medical Center’s Women and Children’s Hospital.

By:  Whitney Burdette
Source: Senator discusses VA, foreign policy at convention in Charleston