July 30, 2011

Manchin Optimistic Debt Ceiling Deal Can Be Reached | Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG - Sen. Joe Manchin, optimistic a debt agreement can be reached before Tuesday, told reporters Friday he's deeply concerned the country's credit rating being downgraded will financially impact every West Virginian and American.

"I know how hard it is to get a credit rating upgrade when you've been downgraded," the first-term West Virginia Democrat, a former governor, said.

Congressmen are debating plans to reduce spending and raise the debt limit to avert a financial meltdown on Tuesday, but have not reached a compromise after months of wrangling. Rating agencies like Standard and Poor's have said $4 trillion must be cut in10 years or the country could lose its AAA credit rating.

A credit downgrade would be as devastating as defaulting and would lead to higher prices for consumers, Manchin said.

"I'm just so concerned about that," Manchin said.

Manchin said he was so disgusted with the situation, he went on the floor of the Senate on Thursday to apologize to the state and America. He called it a debacle.

"I felt compelled to apologize to every West Virginian and every American," he said.

Manchin urged lawmakers to agree on a long-term solution. The proposals offered by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., don't provide a long-term fix, he said.

Neither plan will get Manchin's support. Manchin said he would support a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget, however, it would have to be without conditions in a debt-reduction plan.

The plan with the most bipartisanship appears to be from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which was formed by President Obama to come up with a long-term fiscal solution, Manchin said. Also called the Bowles-Simpson commission for cochairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, its plan became the so-called Gang of Six proposal, Manchin said.

"It's the only thing I have seen that is bipartisan since I've been here," he said.

The Bowles-Simpson commission plan would cut the $4 trillion, Manchin said. 


By:  Jess Mancini