Manchin visits Mineral County, presents computers to KMS | Mineral News-Tribune
KEYSER - Sen. Joe Manchin hosted one of his "Coffee and Common Sense" town hall meetings at Castiglia's in Keyser Monday afternoon, speaking to the crowd about national security, the minimum wage, and the state of education, among other topics.
The Senator opened his visit to Mineral County with a meeting at Rocket Center with employees of ATK and IBM, in addition to assorted public officials, including two county commissioners and three local mayors.
He then traveled to Castiglia's, followed by a stop at Potomac State College, and the offices of the Mineral Daily News Tribune.
At all the stops, he touched on several different topics, and answered questions from the audience.
One of the issues he spoke about was national security, and the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East which he believes will never come to an end.
"Not in your lifetime, and not in your child's lifetime will you see us not involved over there," he said, expressing the opinion that nothing the United States can do is going to "stop these countries from killing each other," but the U.S. needs to continue to put them on notice that "we're not going to tolerate" threats against our country.
"If we catch you planning to harm America, we're going to get you," he said. "We've got to protect this country."
On the home front, Manchin spoke about the minimum wage and the need to revamp the system.
"If a person gets up every morning and works for 40 hours, should they still be making poverty wages?" he asked. "I believe they should be above the poverty guidelines."
On the other hand, he said, a young person just starting out, working part-time with no skills, shouldn't necessarily receive the same wage as someone starting out in a full-time job.
He suggested "stepping into" a minimum wage increase which would include different levels of wages.
He expressed his disappointment in the Senate's recent failure to approve the pipeline from Canada to the Gulf, and noted that he would "rather do business with our friends than our enemies."
He also believes the United States must become as energy independent as possible.
"Unless you're energy independent, you cannot be secure as a nation," he said. "Every war that has ever been fought has been over energy, in one way or another," he said.
He also advocates tax reform to help bring business and jobs back into the country.
Noting that many industries have taken their business - and jobs - off shore to get away from taxes, he said, "We're going to continue to trade globally, but there's no reason in the world a corporation should have to go off shore to operate.
"We need a revamp of the tax code, both for corporations and individuals."
The Senator also spoke about the education system today, noting that, in his day, students were "flunked" and not allowed to proceed to the next grade if they didn't master the skills necessary to move on.
"Have you heard of a kid being flunked lately?" he said. "No, today we pass them and put them out into society for you all to deal with them."
He noted there needs to be more emphasis on learning, particularly in the "STEM" subjects of science, technology, engineering and math.
"We're not No. 1 in anything any more," he said. "We used to be No. 1 in everything."
During his meeting at Castiglia's, he presented Keyser Middle School with five computers through the U.S. Senate Computers for Schools program.
KMS principal Mary Racey, who accepted the gift along with teachers Amy Rice and Kara Breedlove, said the additional computers would allow them to start a computer lab for the fifth grade.
Every grade at the school will now have its own computer lab for testing and class activities.
By: Liz Beavers
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