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Manchin's Message from the Hill to the Mountains: An Invitation to Discuss Our Future and Our Finances

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I am so proud to take this chance to announce a rare opportunity for the people of our great state, who care so much about the future of our country.

With our country's finances so far out of control, all of the priorities that all of us care about -- whether it's creating jobs, maintaining the best military in the world, keeping the core of vital programs like Social Security or educating the next generation -- all of those priorities are in jeopardy.

Whether you consider yourself a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent, or whether you consider yourself a liberal, conservative or centrist -- no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, we can't invest in any of your priorities unless we can pay for it.

We are running out of easy options to put our country's financial house in order. And every day that we delay a big fix, the price will be higher. The changes will be more painful. The choices will be more stark.

There are plenty of politicians who will talk about fixing our financial problems. Who will pay lip service to coming up with a plan. Who will talk a good game, but in the end will let the problem continue to fester.

I am not one of those politicians who can turn a blind eye to our debt. The people of West Virginia sent me to Washington to look at the facts, make hard choices and work with both Democrats and Republicans to do the right thing for our state. No matter how hard it will be to fix our problems -- and it's clear that everyone will need to have a little skin in the game and share these sacrifices -- I am determined to do it.

But no Senator -- no matter how committed -- can do it alone.

That is why I am so pleased to announce that two of this nation's greatest financial leaders will be coming to West Virginia on Sept. 10 to hold an open forum with the people of our state about the future of our finances.

Former Senator Alan Simpson, a Republican from Wyoming, and Mr. Erskine Bowles, the White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, are two of the toughest and smartest people in this country when it comes to our finances.

Since I've been here, the most bipartisan effort to fix our finances has been led by these two gentlemen, beginning when they were asked to head up the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

In December of 2010, Senator Simpson and Mr. Bowles laid out a serious blueprint for a solution -- one that isn't perfect, but that has earned more support from members of both parties than anything else that has been proposed in Washington.

Since then, too many of our leaders have put their heads in the sand about this proposal, and the choices we face.

But West Virginia is different from most states. We welcome the hard truth, because we know we have to face the truth. And believe me, we can handle the truth.

At the forum on Sept. 10, West Virginians will have an opportunity to hear some truth-telling and share their views. I am so proud that Senator Simpson and Mr. Bowles will participate in this forum -- "Our Finances & Our Future: A Bipartisan Conversation about the Facts" -- at our magnificent Culture Center from 9 a.m. to noon.

They will present the facts -- and there's no doubt that the facts are dire -- and lay out the magnitude of the problem we face. And then we'll talk about solutions. It's a rare opportunity to have a frank, bipartisan conversation about the grave conditions of our nation's finances.

So I'm inviting all West Virginians -- business, labor, senior groups, the young people who will be expected to pay off our debt, and anyone else with an interest in our future -- to come and participate in this session.

The West Virginia fiscal summit is just one honest way we can take an important step toward coming together to solve our problems -- and one more way for the people of West Virginia to show this nation that we can and will do the heavy lifting it will take to put this country back on the right track.


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