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Manchin Attacks Fellow Democrats Over Budget — Again

The Senator from West Virginia won't vote to raise debt ceiling without fiscal reforms.

1:30 PM, Mar 21, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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It's only been a few weeks since Manchin last made a stink about Obama and his fellow Democrats' total lack of leadership. Well, Manchin's not done putting his party through the wringer yet:

Less than two weeks after he delivered a maiden floor speech denouncing President Barack Obama’s “failure to lead” on cutting deficit spending, freshman Sen. Joe Manchin is taking his argument home to his West Virginia constituents.

Warning that “we cannot ignore the fiscal Titanic of our national debt and deficit,” the Democrat will stress his unwillingness to simply rubber-stamp his party’s positions in a Monday morning speech at the University of Charleston.

“There are some in Washington who believe we can simply ignore the fiscal peril we face as a nation,” he will say. “They are wrong.”

Facing a tough battle for a full term in the Senate, Manchin is making clear efforts to distance himself from what he sees as dithering on the national debt, coming from Democrats and from Washington as a whole. The former West Virginia governor asked earlier this month: “Why are we doing all this when the most powerful person in these negotiations — our president — has failed to lead this debate or offer a serious proposal for spending and cuts that he would be willing to fight for?” Last week, 63 senators signed a letter to Obama asking him to play a larger role in solving the debt crisis.

And The Hill reports that Manchin is threatening to vote against raising the debt ceiling unless Democrats get serious about the deficit:

"That is why I will vote against raising the debt ceiling unless the vote is linked to a real budget plan that begins to fix our fiscal mess," the Democrat will explain. "We cannot make budgets based on the next election; they must be based on the next generation."

Whether or not you think Manchin is just cynically trying to save his hide as a Democrat representing a more conservative West Virginia electorate, as I said before, Manchin's an obvious bellwether for Democrats. If Manchin can so publicly berate his party without consequence, Democrats are likely out of step with the mainstream on the budget deficit.

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