After watching the debt ceiling debate for several weeks, you must have no question: our political process is needlessly dysfunctional and partisan. I truly apologize for what you had to witness and what this country went through. But I haven't let Washington break me, and you shouldn't let it break you, either.
The bipartisan compromise struck by Congressional leaders and the President this week opens a commonsense pathway to work on fixing our long-term spending and debt problems. As I pledged to the people of West Virginia, we protected vital programs like Social Security and Medicare, responsibly cut trillions in spending, and ensured that Congress will vote in a few months on what I hope will be a balanced, long-term deficit reduction plan.
With all that said, the deal is far from perfect; it is a compromise that doesn't contain everything we'd wish for in a perfect world.
The deal itself provides some needed certainty to our economy by extending the debt limit through 2013. At the same time, it cuts about $1 trillion immediately and provides a path for Congress to cut an additional $1.5 trillion in the near future. A special committee will be formed to specify those $1.5 trillion in cuts. You might be saying: "I've heard of committees before and they haven't done anything." The difference is that this deal requires Congress to act by the end of the year, or other automatic spending cuts will be made. If Congress does not find a way to cut at least $1.2 trillion on its own, automatic spending cuts will be triggered to achieve at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. And the deal eliminates a so-called war savings gimmick that included savings from wars we should no longer be fighting as savings.
I am hopeful that this framework will finally force our federal government to live within its means just like families all over this country and just like the state of West Virginia. We need to show the world that this country has its fiscal house in order, that an investment in America is still a wise one, and that political posturing won't stop our leaders from doing the right thing for this nation.
More troubling than the result was the process that the American people had to endure and the uncertainty it created in our economy. The type of political games and partisanship that I witnessed throughout these negotiations was unlike anything I have ever seen. Elected leaders need to be more concerned about the next generation than the next election. We can and we must do better.
This was not the first high-stakes battle to take place in this Congress, and it certainly won't be the last. You deserve a Congress that is willing to put politics aside and make the tough decisions that will put this country on a steady path forward, create jobs, and provide certainty to your families and the economy. I hope that as we go forward, members of Congress can start working together and put their country first. I will do my part to work hard every day to focus on restoring confidence, creating jobs and rebuilding our economy.
It's time for Washington to pass commonsense legislation that will restore confidence and create an economic environment that will allow families and businesses whether in West Virginia or across America to thrive and succeed. We need to focus on job creation, adopt a plan to achieve energy independence, eliminate out-of control rules and regulations, and achieve fiscal stability by responsibly cutting spending. Now more than ever, it's time to rebuild America.
I hope that you will join me in coming weeks as I focus on rebuilding America and travel to 20 counties across our state to talk about the path forward. Please visit my web site, www.manchin.senate.gov, for more details and information.