January 12, 2016

Sen. Joe Manchin says WV left behind by Obama | Register-Herald

In his preview of the State of the Union address, Sen. Joe Manchin said he believes President Obama has left West Virginia behind.

"You have to be president of all 50 states," Manchin told reporters Tuesday. "You can't leave any of us behind."

He said West Virginians have faced challenging times in the past few years, especially with "unobtainable" and "unreasonable" clean air standards handed down by the president.

The regulations have forced dozens of mines to close, leaving hundreds of West Virginia coal miners without jobs.

"I think he's in denial," Manchin said of the president's belief that renewable energy can sustain the country's energy needs.

The senator, however, believes more focus and resources should be placed on technology that works, such as clean coal technology.

Manchin expects Obama to address the war on drugs, an ever-growing problem in the Mountain State.

"The No. 1 killer in West Virginia is legal prescription drug abuse."

He said he would encourage the president to start at the FDA by hiring a director that isn't backed by large pharmaceutical companies, but rather someone who understands the consequences drug abuse can have on Americans.

"Something has to be done."

Manchin anticipates discussion during the State of the Union about how to end gun violence, but as an avid gun rights activist, Manchin said the president cannot demonize those who disagree with him.

He also discussed a bill he co-sponsored called "Gun Sense," which he says is highly supported by gun owners. The bill would require background checks for online sales, sales at gun shows and sales to family members.

Manchin also expects Obama to speak about his legacy, as this is his final State of the Union address.

Manchin does not believe, however, Obama's legacy is one of which to be proud — largely because of the country's $19 trillion debt.

"That's a tremendous debt that'll be passed down to our children."

He said overcoming that debt will be tough, but he believes it can be accomplished with an overhaul of the tax structure.

He criticized the tax cuts implemented by former President George W. Bush, and shared his belief if former President Bill Clinton's tax policies had been kept in place, "We'd be debt free as a nation."
Overall, Manchin said he wants the leader of the nation not to operate in fear.

"We should not be afraid. This is the greatest country on Earth."

By:  Wendy Holdren