WASHINGTON - There is work to be done on the nation's financial woes and a U.S. senator from West Virginia believes elected officials should be in Washington, D.C., addressing them.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday, urging everyone to stay, roll up their sleeves and get down to work addressing the nation's financial crisis instead of putting it off and heading home to campaign for the November election.
The Senate considered a temporary spending measure Thursday, the 13th temporary spending extension since November 2010, to keep the government operational for another six months.
Such an action would just be "kicking the can down the road" to handle at some other time when there was not an election to worry about, Manchin said in a telephone press conference after his speech.
"More people want me here working rather than at home campaigning," he said. "I have had plenty of people tell me we need to stay here and do the job they hired us to do."
Manchin said the national debt, which is more than $16 trillion, continues to pile up daily. Any serious discussion of how Congress should deal with it keeps getting marred in party politics and political posturing, he said.
In his speech on the Senate floor, Manchin said these continuing resolutions are supposed to be temporary, but they have become a permanent way of doing business in Congress.
"And let me tell you, it's a really bad way of doing business," he said. "It ignores the dire circumstances of a record $16 trillion dollars national debt that will increase close to $1 trillion a year if we don't balance our annual budget."
Since his time in the Senate, Manchin said Congress has passed 12 continuing resolutions.
"And now, we're being asked to pass yet another measure to keep things going another six months so we can all go home for the election and worry later about this country's growing debt," he said. "Well, a "baker's dozen" is just one too many for me.
"Enough is enough. I can't vote for this measure to simply kick the can farther down the road another six months. This can't go on."
During his phone press conference, Manchin spoke of America's proud history of being able to meet challenges head on and coming up with practical solutions for the common good of everyone.
However, many people in Washington seem to want to focus on their own political status and the standing of their party, rather than the business the people sent them there to do, Manchin said.
The senator acknowledges that such stances would have political consequences for some of his colleagues.
However, inactivity has resulted in this session of Congress, the 112th, being one of the least productive in the nation's history with only passing 173 public laws, well below the 906 passed by the 80th Congress, which Harry Truman called the "Do-Nothing Congress," Manchin said.
"This is not the America I want to hand off to my children," he said.
Not one thing will turn the country's financial situation around, Manchin said. It has to be a combination of things.
Congress needs to get spending under control, make sure everyone pays their fair share of taxes and find ways to eliminate waste and fraud in existing programs, while still providing needed services to those who truly need it, Manchin said.
The country can't continue its deficit spending, he said.
"I don't subscribe to the idea of printing money and throwing it out there," Manchin said.
Manchin said West Virginia was able to address a difficult situation when it fixed its workers' compensation program.
"Once it was fixed, we began exceeding our revenue estimates," he said. "There is nothing we can't do if we put our minds to it."