August 03, 2012

Manchin: Staggering debt threatening America’s future | The Beckley Register-Herald

CHARLESTON — Exactly one decade from now, if Congress does nothing to deal with the nation’s staggering debt, the share facing every man, woman and child is expected to reach $79,000.

As of now, the debt of individuals stands at $50,700.

“But it’s only going to get worse if we don’t do our job and fix it,” says Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who plans to headline a special, bi-partisan summit on the nation’s debt next month in the West Virginia capital.

Within two decades, Manchin says, if the red ink isn’t eased, retirees can expect only 75 percent of the Social Security into which they invested a lifetime of work.

Joining Manchin at the head table Sept. 10 — falling on the first day of September interims for state lawmakers — will be a number of West Virginia stakeholders from a broad range of interests.

Business, labor, seniors and others with a mutual concern over the nation’s debt will take part in the session, expected to begin around 9 a.m. and to the lunch hour at the West Virginia Culture and History Center on the Capitol grounds. The event is formally billed as “Our Finances & Our Future: A Bipartisan Conversation about the Facts.”

In fact, Manchin is throwing out a general invitation to anyone who wants to attend. All will be allowed to ask the panelists questions.

Already, the deficit stands at a whopping $16 trillion, almost mirroring the gross domestic product figure.

“So, just who exactly is supposed to pay for all that debt?” Manchin asked in a Senate floor speech at midweek.

“If you do the math, the picture isn’t pretty. We’re not balancing our budget, we’re not training people for the jobs of the future and we’re leaving our children and grandchildren a massive debt that, as of today, equals the entire economic production of this great nation.”

Joining Manchin will be former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, who served as White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton.

All three spoke with the media in a telephone conference call Wednesday, with the same grim message, and that is the nation’s debt cannot be ignored any longer.

The trio stopped short of suggesting doom is just around the corner, but left no doubt that foreign countries holding the notes could easily call them in, leaving essentials in the lurch.

What’s more, as the debt rises, they said, the prospects of a deepening recession are exacerbated by soaring inflation and higher interest rates.

Manchin termed it “an economic train wreck” and cautioned that some painful medicine would have to be prescribed to get America’s financial house off the sick list.

“I am not one of those politicians who can turn a blind eye to our debt,” the freshman Democrat said.

“The people of West Virginia sent me here to look at the facts, make hard choices and work with Democrats and Republicans to do the right thing for our state. No matter how hard it will be to fix our problems — and it’s clear everyone will need to have a little skin in the game and share these sacrifices — I am determined to do it.”

By:  Mannix Porterfield