U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) wrapped up his "Call for Common Sense" tour last week, a two-week trip that included more than a dozen stops across the state. Sen. Manchin used the tour as an opportunity to hear from a diverse group of West Virginians about their concerns, insights and commonsense ideas for Washington.
Senator Manchin has authored an op-ed (below) about the highlights of his "Common Sense" tour of West Virginia. Newspapers and online sites in West Virginia are invited to print the op-ed as a "wrap up" to Senator Manchin's two-week tour. Sample photos from the tour are attached; please contact email@example.com for additional pictures.
"Call for Common Sense" -- A Tour of West Virginia
"Over the course of two weeks this month, I visited 11 counties, drove 1,800 miles and talked to hundreds of you, the great citizens of West Virginia, about what you think needs to happen in Washington. Day after day, at event after event, West Virginians took time out of your busy days to share with me your ideas, concerns and priorities for Washington. What I heard again and again were a lot of commonsense ideas and thoughts. Just like I expected, West Virginians have more common sense in their little finger than the folks in Washington have in their entire bodies.
"What I heard is that West Virginians want the federal government to get off our backs and out of our pockets and truly help to create more jobs. Bottom line, West Virginians don't want a handout, we want a work permit.
"Like me, you are outraged by the unprecedented decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to retroactively veto a coal mining permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County. We want to protect our way of life and we are angry about the chilling effect the EPA's decision is sure to have on investments, jobs, and our economic recovery -- in West Virginia and "the nation. Our concerns are one of the reasons that my first piece of legislation will be a bill that will prevent the EPA from retroactively vetoing an active permit and thereby destroying jobs and further damaging our fragile economy.
West Virginians are also concerned about out-of-control spending and the raising the ceiling on our country's debt limit if we don't have a commonsense plan in place to get long term spending under control. So many of you looked me in the eye and asked: "West Virginians have had to tighten their belts, so why won't Washington?' At my town hall in Wheeling, I heard from one young woman who is concerned about her future and even worried about having children because she doesn't want to saddle them with this debt burden. In America, no one should have to worry about starting a family because of the careless spending and waste by Washington.
"In West Virginia, we know that you can't spend your way to prosperity. In Washington, I intend to make this very important point to my colleagues: West Virginians wouldn't try to spend their way out of debt, and neither should we.
"West Virginians also raised serious concerns about health care reform, and I have expressed my strong commitment to work in a bipartisan fashion on real repairs to this legislation. Again and again, West Virginians agreed on the good parts of the bill -- like requiring insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions and allowing adult children to remain on their parents' coverage -- but made clear that are other parts of the bill must be changed.
"For example, I met a man in Elkins who wants to start hiring new employees, but is reluctant to make any job offers because of the burdens he faces in the new health care bill. In that spirit, I believe we must repeal the 1099 provision that places an onerous burden on small businesses and I am proud to be the lead Democratic sponsor on a bipartisan bill that would do just that. Furthermore, we should work to relax the mandate that would require everyone to purchase insurance and reduce the Medicaid burden on the states. I plan to work hard with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make these and other positive changes that ensure health care reform is not an obstacle to our economy or our families.
"When I visited our veterans' centers, I heard from patriots who sacrificed so much for our country and who are now worried about getting the services they need. I also heard from the families of the servicemen who are bravely serving their nation on the front lines in Afghanistan. I remain committed to ensuring that we do all we can to bring our servicemen and women home safely, and support their families here at home.
"I share your sense of urgency to make our country more secure by reducing our dependence on foreign oil. I assure that you West Virginians will do more than our part in providing this country's energy needs.
"Finally, to move this county in the right direction, I need you, the citizens of the state I am so honored to serve, to stay involved. Your commonsense ideas and priorities of the people have been heard loud and clear, and I intend to deliver your message to Washington. But to do what we must, all of us need to stay involved. So, I thank you and hope to hear more from you in the coming weeks and months.
"To share your ideas, concerns and priorities with me, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call (304) 342-5855, because I know if we work together, we can and will, bring commonsense and common purpose back to Washington."