OTR Interviews

For One Democratic Senator, It's Thumbs Down to Both the Boehner and Reid Debt Plans

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on why he opposes the dueling debt plans and what he's looking for in a deal


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 29, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Did you hear what's going on in the U.S. Senate. One Democratic senator is breaking ranks with his party. First term senator, Joe Manchin, says he will not vote for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's debt ceiling plan, but he's not a fan of Speaker Boehner's plan either. Why not? Earlier today, West Virginia's Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D-W. VA: Thank you, Greta, nice to be here.

VAN SUSTEREN: You don't like Senator Reid's bill or Speaker Boehner's bill. What is wrong with both of them, and what do you like?

MANCHIN: I respect both of those men and they are trying as hard as they can to get what they can done. I said one is short and one is shorter. I came here to fix things as a governor in West Virginia who had to live in a balanced budget amendment and had to work within my parameters. We had to face tough situations and we fixed things.

I came here and told the people I would be coming from West Virginia to try and fix what I thought was wrong and maybe we could help by showing them what we did and I found out it is a little bit more challenging but we are working hard and we are going to get it done.

If we are going to have a fix every economist says you need a $4 trillion swing. The Simpson-Bowles debt commission, everyone was shooting for that target. Everything since then, neither one of them fix it.

And with all due respect with Senator Boehner his gets us into an election year. If you think this has been a fiasco you ain't seen nothing yet if you put that kind of turmoil during that period of time.

In all fairness, Senator Reid puts it to right up to the election. That is not fair either. It really hasn't fixed a big problem. If we are going to do it give something that gives us guaranteed vote before the end of the year that we will vote on the big package to fix what we can. It's been laid out and worked out with Simpson-Bowles and the gang of six, a group that basically makes sense.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are both Speaker Boehner and Senator Reid's bills creating more trouble later and not solving the problem and just an effort to sort of get something done and even like a band aid to get us to the next step.

MANCHIN: I'm brand new up here but I have always looked and my mind thinks if you have a problem you fix it because you will have another problem tomorrow. If you have a problem and you don't fix it and you put a band aid on it and that scabs maybe doesn't heal up and you got to deal with it again. We do we want to go back and do this again.

VAN SUSTEREN: You are not the only ex-governor. You've got Senator Warner and Senator Ben Nelson as well --

MANCHIN: Lamar Alexander, John Hogan.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you sort inform a special club here? You must all sort of recognize the problem and all come from states that have balanced budget amendments.

MANCHIN: We have very comfortable conversations understanding we knew what it took to run or states and have a hard sometimes understanding process. Just hunker down. You know what, we can do it when you look at the good of the country.

I used to tell both Democrats and Republicans we are going to work with what is best for West Virginia. I can't basically just cater to one side or another. If you want to play politics I will give you something to play politics with. This is real serious and this is serious what we are dealing with, Greta.

We are talking about the insolvency of the nation and the credit rating. Credit rating I know something about because as governor ours had been dismal for far too long at West Virginia. Our goal was to get the financial House in order and get the credit rating raised.

VAN SUSTEREN: Something is going to happen and probably it's not going be something you like. And even worse, from what you say, it's something that is not even going to work.

MANCHIN: I still think that they can put something together that basically takes care of our insolvency. We will pay our bills. We'll put a parallel path where they can put the legislation because it is complicated and the tax code and has to work through committees and give it the deadline through the end of the year that we must vote. I think John Boehner wants to put a commission together and Harry Reid.

VAN SUSTEREN: Many American people, we talk about a commission. We had the Simpson-Bowles commission that was sort of their job and they came out with a solution.

MANCHIN: We didn't have enough votes within the commission. We had to get 11 out of 18 or 14 out of 18 jet but that 18.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that was a good idea.

MANCHIN: It was a great idea. There should have been a guaranteed vote.

VAN SUSTEREN: But there is nothing to prevent everyone from resurrecting their ideas.

MANCHIN: Basically this commission has to follow the frame work and a parallel legislation which is a debt commission gang of six and there is 35 or 40 that signed on evenly split.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did Senator Harry Reid say when you talked about his views?

MANCHIN: Harry has been open. He is trying to reach out.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you tell him this isn't $4 trillion, just a band aid, going to kick it into the election --

MANCHIN: I said I got to go back home and say we are fixing thing. They didn't expect me to come home and say guess what we took care of it until after the elections.

VAN SUSTEREN: What does he say to that?

MANCHIN: He's trying to work through it. He really is. He is reaching out and I think there is more going on with hopefully him and Mitch talking. We will have -- if we can't make it in the Senate I don't know what to do then.

VAN SUSTEREN: Balanced budget for the federal government -- good idea or bad idea?

MANCHIN: I like it, but you have to make sure, the federal government is a little different. It has to meet national disasters and wars and other parameters. You can put conditions on that, but it keeps you basically in the parameter living within your means.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I said "good" because you gave me a fast answer is what I meant because we are running out of time. Thank you, sir.

MANCHIN: Thank you, Greta. I appreciate it.