Manchin Says Fix Needed To Secure Seniors’ Safety Net
Posted: October 10, 2012
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks with Kate Mitchell during a stop Friday at the Pendleton County Senior Center. (Photo by Joan Ashley / DN-R)
But he conceded that the future of the safety net programs is up in the air for the next generation of retirees.
“The debate is what will we do for the longevity of it?” the Democratic senator said Friday during a visit to the Pendleton County Senior Center in Franklin.
Manchin won a special election in 2010 to fill out the remaining two years of the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s term. He is running for re-election this year to a full six-year term and will face Republican challenger John Raese in the Nov. 6 election.
With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, Social Security is in dire need of reform if it is to remain solvent through the next century, members of both political parties say. Medicare, the national program primarily geared toward providing health insurance to senior citizens, is in much the same situation.
Republicans and Democrats, however, differ on how to protect those programs for future generations.
Manchin has said he opposes Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Social Security and transform Medicare into a voucher program. Ryan’s plan would leave those 55 and older in the current system.
On Friday, the senator urged “common-sense changes” to protect the solvency of Medicare and Social Security.
“We don’t need to let [insolvency] happen,” he said. “We’ve been warned so we can make the necessary changes.”
A conservative Democrat, Manchin voted against the Social Security payroll tax cut extension earlier this year, saying it would only add to the deficit and hurt the program’s long-term prospects.
There is a lot of “misinformation” circulating around the country, Manchin told the crowd during the lunchtime visit.
For one thing, Social Security is not about to run out of money, analysts say. The Social Security board of trustees say the program’s trust fund would stay solvent under the current system through at least 2033.
But, Manchin said, there is no denying that the financial crisis has hurt Social Security and Medicare.
“We’re in trouble with $16 trillion in debt. That’s not a political party problem, but an American party problem,” he said, casting the debt — a major campaign liability for President Barack Obama and other Democrats — as a nonpartisan issue.
“Everybody blames other [people],” Manchin continued. “I want to hear what we can do to fix it — we need to turn it around.”
Pointing to the people in the room, West Virginia’s junior senator stated that “our forefathers left the country in better shape for us, and I’ll be darned if I’ll sit back and see the country in worse shape when I pass it on to my kids.”
Contact Joan Ashley at 574-6200