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Failure not an option for debt supercommittee, Manchin tells 'Face the Nation'

AP Photo
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., discusses the special deficit-cutting supercommittee deadline on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday, in Washington.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Appearing on his first Sunday morning national talk show, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said failure "cannot be an option for the deficit reduction supercommittee."

That bipartisan 12-member committee has a Wednesday deadline to come up with legislation to cut the national deficit -- which recently topped $15 trillion -- by $1.2 trillion.

Speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation," Manchin said if the supercommittee fails to reach agreement on a plan, a bipartisan group of 140 members of the Senate and House should be allowed to step forward with its proposals.

That group is urging the supercommittee to "go big" and identify $4 trillion in budget reductions in coming years.

"We're spending billions and trillions overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I've said let's rebuild America. Bring that home. You build us a bridge in West Virginia, help us build a school, we won't blow it up and we won't burn it down. We'll be very appreciative," Manchin said.

The supercommittee, formally called the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, includes six Democratic and six Republican members, half from the Senate and half from the House.

The committee was created this summer, as part of legislation to raise the national debt ceiling. The committee's purpose was to make proposals to reduce the national debt by $1.5 trillion.

"Failure cannot be accepted," Manchin said Sunday. "I don't want to be a part of a generation that turned over the keys to the next generation with the country in worse shape. That's never happened before."

Manchin has been working closely with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

Members of Congress have been focused on the next election, he said. "You never fixed a thing by blaming people. So yes, we want to see the president take the leadership. We want to see members of Congress and leadership take that position that they've been asked to do....

"If the supercommittee cannot reach an agreement and nothing is done, then leadership at all levels is not working," Manchin said on "Face the Nation."

A growing number of political leaders and political analysts, however, believe strong bipartisan disagreements will prevent the super committee from reaching any recommendations by the Wednesday deadline.

After George W. Bush became president in January 2001, economist Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times column last Thursday, Republicans began squandering the surplus reached under Bill Clinton's presidency "on tax cuts and unfunded wars."

Krugman, like many Democrats, fears a deficit reduction deal could "slash Social Security and Medicare, with no lasting improvement in the deficit....

"Slashing spending while the economy is depressed," Krugman added, "destroys jobs, and it's probably even counterproductive in terms of deficit reduction, since it leads to lower revenue both now and in the future."

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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