WV Senator Joe Manchin Stops By Pocahontas Courthouse
Marlinton, WV – West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin was in Pocahontas County on August 12th, just one of the stops on his “Rebuilding America” tour of the state. Manchin met with Pocahontas County Commissioners, State Senator Walt Helmick, Marlinton Mayor Joe Smith and the public for a short address before taking a walking tour of Marlinton.
Senator Manchin spoke a variety of topics before fielding questions from constituents. The topics ranged from the war in Afghanistan to education to healthcare. Manchin says he’s distressed that China is extracting minerals from Afghanistan, while the US and other countries provide the security infrastructure that allows such activities.
“The only county in there that outbid everybody else is China” says Manchin. “They bid three and a half billion dollars as I understand for the copper rights. Now they’re in there successfully trying to develop a copper mine and there not spending one penny on defense, they don’t have one boot on the ground, they’re not in any way associated with trying to bring the rule of law to that country; they just want to extract it. And they expect the United States of America to give them the infrastructure and protection it takes to extract it; I said you got to be crazy.”
He says producing a better educated workforce is essential to being able to compete in the 21st century. He’s also heard from a lot of West Virginians about healthcare.
“I asked people how many of you think that we should eliminate the healthcare bill that was passed” he says, “and then I say how many of you believe that maybe we should try to repair it? The majority of West Virginians across the state tell me that they think we should try to fix it. They know it’s got problems, but they’re not willing to throw it out because there are some parts they like.”
Such as covering pre-existing conditions, families and mandating that insurance companies spend the majority of their money on the care of people. But he says there are also some parts that are more controversial such as the requirement that everyone buy health insurance, increased taxes and a mandate to more than double the state Medicaid requirement for those who qualify under income guidelines. He also says on the federal level, the country also has to reduce fraud and abuse, citing a General Accounting Office report last year that identified at least $125 billion in erroneous or fraudulent payments to those who didn’t deserve the money. Manchin says he was dismayed when Congress first started talking about spending cuts a year ago.
“First thing that we talked about was how do we cut Head Start” he says, “next thing you hear, might have to cut Social Security and Medicare. The first thing they do is go to the children and our seniors. It’s criminal what both sides, the games they play, throwing them out first. And I said if anything, that should be where your values are and your priority is to protect that; just make sure the people aren’t scamming you.”
Local business owner Ralph Beckwith shared his thoughts with Manchin.
“Government, state or federal is too big, it needs to be shrunk” says Beckwith. “The reason I’m saying that is every day we need to hire four or five people and we cannot get four or five people; and the reason we can’t get them is because government assistance is too good for people who don’t want to work.”
“When they ask me what should the government do” says Manchin, “if there was some certainty in government, and we knew how you were going to not only govern but stay with it; then there’d be some dependability and I’d make a decision of whether I want to jump in or not, but right now, there’s not.”
At the conclusion of the almost hour and a half session, Manchin took away three core ideas. That Americans want to see a shift in the war effort from fighting insurgency back to fighting terrorism, that Congress should try to fix the healthcare bill rather than throw the whole thing out, and that a balanced approach to fixing the country’s financial problems should include reducing waste, fraud and abuse and tax reform.