Interview with Senator Joe Manchin: Part V

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CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, RCP: Another issue Congress has to address is the upcoming debt ceiling deadline. Why should Democrats negotiate with Republicans on this deadline?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN: Well basically, on the CRs, there’s two different things. The continuing resolution just basically says, listen, at the start of the year, you either have a budget, and it’s a shame we haven’t had a budget, and you know, the Republicans blame the Democrats for not having a budget for so many years, and they have a right. We didn’t. This year we vote, and get a budget, and they don’t want to go sit down and talk about it. And that’s wrong. You know, I voted for the Democratic budget, just to get it into conferees. I didn’t agree with it, but I thought at least you have to have a dialogue. To have a vehicle to work on. So the continuing resolution was saying, ‘this is the amount of money you can spend.’ The Democrats agreed to the Republican figure of $988 billion. That was a victory for the Republicans and for all the fiscal hawks. We can live within that, I’m fine with that.

Well, then they look at social issues: Obamacare. Well, it’s started. Let’s see where the problems are. If it’s going to fail, it’ll fail on its own. Why they wanted to use that to inflict so much pain, self-inflicted pain on Americans, was beyond me.

So that’s one issue, now we go right into the debt ceiling, which is basically when you run out of the ability to pay all of your bills, the full faith and confidence of the United States government. And ability to pay its bills. That’s a different story.

But that is about finances. If you’re going to talk about raising the debt ceiling, shouldn’t we be talking about fixing the debt too? That’s an appropriate time to do it. This thing has gotten so intertwined. Someone’s holding someone hostage, until you do this. I wish that my Republican friends would vote to go back to work immediately. To go open up government. Let’s have serious talks about how do we fix this debt. Not just raising it, but fixing it. And a guideline or a timetable. I’ve been a big proponent of the Bowles-Simpson approach, I thought it was the most bipartisan, most reasonable, and most realistic thing to do, and it had to be done.

Revenues, spending, and reforms. And we can do all that without destroying the programs we have or destroying this country. If anything, we’ll make this country much stronger.

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