April 18, 2012

Sen. Manchin defends castle doctrine, chides Secret Service | The Beckley Register-Herald

Secret Service agents consorting with prostitutes in Columbia have raised concerns among some on Capitol Hill that security could have been weakened, and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia expressed that worry Tuesday.

In the same telephone news conference with West Virginia media, the Democratic senator voiced disappointment that the so-called Buffett Rule collapsed on a basically a party-line vote and he defended his 2008 signing of the “Castle Doctrine” bill that allows deadly force to protect one’s domicile.

The Buffett Rule, named after wealthy investor Warren Buffett who said the rich need to pay more taxes, would have set a 30 percent tax rate on anyone earning at least $1 million. That would cover about 550 people in West Virginia.

“I don’t think that’s punishment,” Manchin said. “I’m looking at the rate.

“We’re not raising the rate. Should the offsets and credits and loopholes allow you to pay a lower rate just because you’re in a higher income tax brackets that maybe you can afford to take advantage of?”

Given the intensity of a presidential election year, however, Manchin said he doubted Congress would get around to any meaningful reforms in either taxes or government spending until after the November general election.

Chad Holland, executive director of the West Virginia Republican Party, scoffed at Manchin’s support of the Buffett Rule, given its projected ability to erase a mere .34 percent of the nation’s massive debt.

“Manchin’s vote is the same as a person paying $34 towards a debt of $10,000 and then acting as though he or she is taking the debt seriously,” Holland said.

Reporters quizzed the senator about other topics, including the brewing scandal involving Secret Service agents and hookers.

One senator wondered aloud Wednesday if the 20 women reputedly seen in their company had any ties to organizations hostile to this country.

Manchin denounced the alleged actions of the agents and likewise said he is concerned about security.

“To say that moral conduct was despicable would be an understatement,” Manchin replied, when asked about a scandal involving 11 agents of the Secret Service and prostitutes in a Columbia hotel.

Manchin said he expects to be briefed on the matter but based on what he knows at this stage he is more concerned about a possible security breakdown.

“As a government, when we’re in foreign lands, that can be compromised and you can’t allow that to happen,” he said.

“The most important thing right now we should be concerned is a breach of our security.”

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin slaying in Sanford, Fla., some are openly critical of the “stand your ground” law that allows deadly force if attacked.

Manchin voiced sympathy for the Martin family and said he had no second thoughts about signing the “Castle Doctrine” bill that permits deadly force but is limited to one’s vehicle and residence.

“I was very supportive of that,” he said of the bill, led by Senate President Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, and former Sen. Shirley Love, D-Fayette.

“I said at the time, I thought your home is your castle. If you use any force to protect your family or your home, you probably had the right to do that.”

Manchin sees the West Virginia version — some 30 states have similar self-defense laws in force — as “a completely different scenario” from the Florida statute.

“I think our state law was very well-written,” he said.

“I think it’s very well intended and very easy to understand.”

Manchin told another questioner he thinks the Obama administration is trying to get American troops home from Afghanistan.

“I would have been out of there a long time ago,” he said.

“Money that’s wasted there can be money well spent in America. Let’s rebuild America. The quicker we get out of debt, the quicker we start rebuilding America.”

Keeping a Special Forces contingent to combat terror wherever it surfaces is all right, Manchin said, “But when you get bogged down in nation building, you need to get out of that as quickly as possible.”

By:  Mannix Porterfield