CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Joe Manchin agrees with congressional Republicans and some Democrats who want to keep Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
In an indication that he would break with President Obama's agenda on a key issue, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate on Wednesday said he believes the tax breaks should be extended for all Americans, regardless of income -- at least until the country gets its "financial house in order."
"I think there's so much waste," Manchin said in a phone interview. "I think there's so much bloated growth."
The governor, who has tried to distance himself from Obama's policies, said no one should face higher taxes in uncertain economic times. Instead, he said, the federal government should look for efficiencies.
"I don't think this nation has done that," he said. "I believe very strongly that it hasn't."
While attending a pro-coal rally Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Manchin also told Fox News that he "wouldn't raise any taxes."
The tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year.
Obama and many Democrats want to extend them for most Americans -- for single people who earn less than $200,000 a year, and married couples earning less than $250,000. They say keeping the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans would add $700 billion to the national deficit over the next 10 years.
Republicans want to extend the breaks for all income levels.
Manchin's Republican opponent in the Senate race, John Raese, supports keeping the tax cuts "indefinitely," said campaign manager Jim Dornan.
"He's very adamant about that," Dornan said. "Raising taxes now is a horrible idea in this economy."
It is possible that whoever is elected in West Virginia's Nov. 2 special election to fill the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd's unexpired term could vote on the tax-cut issue. The winner could replace interim Sen. Carte Goodwin, D-W.Va., as soon as the election results are certified.