October 26, 2013

Senator addresses DC gridlock | Martinsburg Journal

MARTINSBURG - While touring a couple business sites in Martinsburg Thursday, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., felt compelled to apologize for things happening - or not happening - in Congress.

"I want to apologize for all the dysfunction in Washington," he told the crowd during groundbreaking ceremonies at DC Corp's new high-tech data center in the Rockefeller Science and Technology Park. "There is political gridlock in Washington and that's not why I was sent there. The best politician is the politician who does the right thing."

Manchin said America's economy should be taking off like a rocket, because of low energy prices and low interest rates.

"But the economy is stagnant, because of uncertainty, because of uncertainty in Washington," he said.

Later, after touring the Martinsburg Ecolab plant, Manchin again apologized to a gathering of employees.

"If you think it looks ugly, it's even uglier where I'm sitting," he said. "Political ambitions are rising above the good of the nation. And we need to do something before we hit the wall financially. We need a budget we can count on, not continuing resolutions. We have to get our financial house in order."

Manchin said the federal government shutdown "was uncalled for" and the $24 billion it cost the nation cannot be retrieved.

"We can't continue with a multi-trillion dollar debt," he said. "There could be a financial meltdown not because we don't raise the debt ceiling, but because we can't pay our bills. Politics is a criminal shame, but we can fix it."

Manchin said the world is a dangerous place, referring to Iran and its nuclear development program, and the civil war in Syria, adding that he was glad the United States did not take military action against Syria over the use of chemical weapons there.

"We are the superpower in the world," he said. "But being a superpower is about more than military might. We can do whatever we want anywhere in the world. Being a superpower also means you have to have super patience, super discipline and super compassion.

"We can't be everything to everybody," Manchin continued. "We have to pick our priorities and help those who help themselves."

He said the biggest threat to America comes from within.

"We have generations who do not, who are not taking ownership of their country, who are not being a part of society," Manchin said. "They sit on the sideline and expect us to do for them. We have to change that mindset. Our children's generation must want to be part of a world power."

He said the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, would benefit a lot of people, but there are apparent problems with the program that need to be fixed.

Manchin is calling for a transitional year when no one would be fined for not enrolling in a health insurance plan. He and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., are working on legislation to forego fines until Jan. 1, 2015.

He also criticized those who are trying to politicize the problems with the Affordable Care Act and private firms that are forcing employees off company health insurance policies and into the health care exchanges.

Manchin left the Ecolab employees with some advice: don't be intimidated by politicians.

"It a politician introduces himself with his title, you're going to have trouble," he said. "That means they think more about the title than the job."

By:  John McVey