On health care, Raese has repeatedly aired a clip of Manchin saying, "I am totally behind health care reform." What Raese tries to imply, but what Manchin doesn't say, is that he's totally behind Obama's particular version of health care reform.
People of all political persuasions agree that health care reform is needed; what is contentious is what shape those reforms should take. That Manchin said he's behind health care reform does not mean he supports Obama's version of reform. What Manchin has said is that there are problems with the enacted health care legislation and that "it needs to have a lot of it repealed, (and) if you can't fix that, repeal the whole thing."
Manchin said he liked certain parts of the health care legislation, such as its requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, but he opposed the law requiring individuals to buy insurance and most businesses to cover their employees.
Manchin acknowledged problems with the legislation but said there are elements worth keeping, including provisions that prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. "There's a lot of good in the bill that Democrats and Republicans can agree on," Manchin said.
Medicare, Social Security and the Children's Health Insurance Program cover the needs of many Americans, Manchin said but there are others who are denied."A working person today is the one most vulnerable in our society," Manchin said. "If you're getting up every day and going to work, you're probably the most vulnerable part of our society. That has to change."
Raese, the millionaire heir to a powerful company in the state, repeatedly cited his business acumen, promising to "bring the spirit of capitalism to the United States Senate."
"My forte is creating jobs," he said.
Manchin emphasized his opposition to parts of the president's health care overhaul and said he would be "independent" from his party in Congress. Asked by one of the debate moderators to name a policy advanced by Democrats he agreed with, Manchin named Social Security, Medicare and the minimum wage--avoiding any of the major bills Obama and the Democrats have passed over the last two years.
Nonetheless, businessman John Raese, who has surged in the polls by linking Manchin to Obama, assured the audience that the president and governor "are together" on most key issues.
"I hate to inform my opponent, but Mr. Obama's name will not be on the ballot," Manchin said after Raese had linked him once again to the president.
"The bottom line is President Obama or President Bush, I'm an American, I want my president to succeed," Manchin said.
Raese called the state of the nation's economy "almost catastrophic" and focused heavily on creating a pro-business environment, saying he would push for less regulation and taxation of corporations. He also advocated making tax cuts for people who earn more than $250,000 permanent, arguing it would stimulate investment.
Manchin, however, said he wouldn't "mess with or increase" taxes during a time of turmoil and touted his own ability to cut taxes by $235 million since he took office.
But Manchin said states depend on the federal government for key infrastructure like roads, water and sewage lines, and broadband Internet access. Without government, he said, poor, rural states would suffer. "The free enterprise system is not going to go there. They're only going to go where the market is," Manchin said. "And for all of us to have an opportunity there has to be a partnership. The federal government and state government should be your partner, not your provider."
Both men called for a balanced budget amendment that would require Congress to balance the nation's books every year and not run up debt.
Neither candidate provided details about how they propose balancing a multi-trillion-dollar budget, but Raese said he favors giving presidents line-item veto power--something that Byrd staunchly opposed. Manchin said the only time the amendment should be suspended was during war or a national emergency.
Manchin also was highly critical of attempts by the Obama administration to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, saying the path it was taking wasn't going to solve the problem. But technology that could allow the U.S. to continue using coal while minimizing CO2--known as carbon capture and storage--is years, if not decades, away from large-scale use, if it proves practical at all. And scientific organizations such as the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say immediate action needs to be taken if the worst consequences of global warming are to be prevented.
Asked whether they would continue Byrd's tradition, Raese indicated he would not, calling earmarks taxation without representation. "That is something that career politicians are very effective at," he said. "It services them, but it doesn't service Americans."
Manchin said he suspended earmarking at a state legislative level when he first took office as governor. He said earmarking was one reason why there needed to be a balanced budget amendment.
Raese claims Manchin would be a "rubber stamp" for the administration. Manchin said it is his duty as the state's governor to work with the president.
The Obama administration's pursuit of a cap-and-trade policy for greenhouse gases has not gone over well in coal country.
The above quotations are from 2010 West Virginia Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts from 2010 West Virginia Senate Debates.
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