Manchin: 'We Should Not Waste This Moment'
***Video, audio of speech included below***
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor urging his Democratic and Republican colleagues to “seize the moment before us and confront our grave fiscal nightmare” and help pass a responsible Balanced Budget Amendment.
While Senator Manchin is strongly supportive of balancing the nation’s budget – like he did as Governor of West Virginia, ultimately producing annual surpluses – the House “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan would destroy important and vital programs, like Social Security and Medicare, which Senator Manchin and West Virginians staunchly oppose.
In a speech delivered on the floor U.S. Senate today, Manchin made clear that he opposed the House “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan because it did not balance our moral responsibilities as a nation with the critical need to get our fiscal house in order. Senator Manchin also reminded his colleagues that a real Balanced Budget Amendment could be adopted if they put politics aside and worked together, across party lines, to address our nation's fiscal challenges responsibly.
“As a moderate Democrat who is also a proud fiscal conservative, I agree with that bill’s goal of a balanced budget. However, I cannot support the path that it takes,” Senator Manchin said. “I believe that we need to cut, but not so deeply and without regard for our seniors and our most vulnerable. I believe that we need to cap our spending, but not at a level that could destroy important and vital programs. I strongly believe we need a Balanced Budget Amendment, but only one that takes a responsible and reasonable approach.”
Senator Manchin also praised efforts made earlier in the week by the Gang of Six – a bipartisan group made up of Democrats and Republicans from across the ideological spectrum – who rolled out the first and only bipartisan proposal to address this nation’s fiscal challenges.
“At that meeting, 50 senators from both parties, evenly split, came together to listen to the hard work of Senators who span the ideological spectrum,” Senator Manchin said. “At that moment, the Gang of Six turned into what we affectionately called the Mob of Fifty – and for the first time in these negotiations about our fiscal future … we had a bipartisan plan with momentum, that was putting our country first. We should not waste this moment.”
While the Gang of Six plan is not perfect, Senator Manchin believes it is the best way to keep our promises to seniors by ensuring the solvency of Social Security for another 75 years, create a more fair tax system by closing unnecessary loopholes and attack waste, fraud and abuse.
“This is a time for us to come together as Americans, to put our politics aside and do what is right for all of the future of this generation and for this country,” Senator Manchin concluded.
Excerpts from today's speech are available below:
“I rise today to speak about one of my gravest concerns, which is our nation's fiscal future. All of us – Democrats and Republicans, liberals, moderates, conservatives – face a choice about whether we will seize the moment before us and confront our grave fiscal nightmare or whether we will let this moment pass us by. Clearly, we face tough and difficult decisions. But the decisions we make as Members of Congress must be the right and responsible ones or our beloved nation and our hardworking families will needlessly suffer.”
“The difference between what we did back home and what’s happening here in Washington is that we faced these choices together. We worked across party lines, in a responsible way, to address our fiscal challenges. In doing so, we set our state on the right fiscal path without – let me stress without – sacrificing our moral responsibility or obligations to our seniors, our veterans, and the people most challenged in our society. And we did that without raising their tax rates…We did all this by living within our means. It is the reason why I am such a strong supporter of a balanced budget amendment. It makes you put your priorities based on what your values are.”
“How we balance our budget is critically important. We have a moral responsibility and an obligation to our seniors, our families and those who are the most fragile and challenged in society. That is why I cannot support the “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan passed in the House, which we will be voting on shortly. As a moderate Democrat who is also a proud fiscal conservative, I agree with that bill’s goal of a balanced budget. However, I cannot support the path that it takes.
“The ‘Cut, Cap and Balance’ plan does not reflect who we are or what we want to be as Americans. I believe that we need to cut, but not so deeply and without regard for seniors and our most vulnerable. I believe that we need to cap our spending, but not at a level that could destroy the most important and vital programs that we have in society. I strongly believe that we need a Balanced Budget Amendment, but only one that takes a responsible and reasonable approach.
“Clearly, we can all agree that it is time for us to make the difficult choice that will get our financial house in order – but we must do so with the right plan, in a responsible manner that keeps our promises to our seniors, our veterans, and most importantly, our children. And, like it or not, neither Democrats nor Republicans can tackle this enormous challenge on their own. This is not a political problem. This is an American problem. One that we all face. We should put politics aside and truly put our country first.”
“We should not waste this moment. We must work together to cut spending and attack waste, fraud, and abuse in every sector of our state and our country - every department and every program that needlessly cost our nation hundreds of billions of dollars every year. We must work together to reform our tax code – not to raise tax rates, but to make fairness a priority. It is simply unfair that a hardworking middle class families in West Virginia and all around would pay more in taxes than a Fortune 500 company like GE – which didn’t pay a cent. Or billionaires like Warren Buffet, who pays a lower effective tax rates than his secretary.”
Senator Manchin’s message on the balanced budget amendment is available on Pathfire. Instructions for accessing Pathfire are available here: http://democrats.senate.gov/tv/pathfire/manchin.pdf
Web video of the Senator’s message: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcXRzJkxLsQ
Audio of Senator Manchin’s message on the balanced budget amendment: http://demradio.senate.gov/actualities/manchin/072211_MANCHIN_1_RADIO.mp3
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