Interviews

Manchin: ObamaCare repeal a political promise that won't fly

On 'Your World,' West Virginia senator talks health care reform, President Trump's controversial tweets

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," June 29, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Meanwhile, if Republicans don't get on board, you have heard Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say he might turn to Democrats.

My next guest is saying, well, what are you waiting for? I have been eager and open to working with you, and you haven't called me.

I'm talking about West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

Senator, very good to have you.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D-WEST VIRGINIA: It's always good to be with you, Neil.

CAVUTO: What do you make of this, that this has been Republicans only? I know you have tried to bridge that divide.

MANCHIN: Yes.

CAVUTO: And sometimes you get yourself alienated with your own party.

But you want in. And now I guess you can't get in, or what is the latest?

MANCHIN: Well, I would always say, if you look at my past record since I have been here, if you're looking for someone that wants to be bipartisan and work in a constructive way, I have always been the go-to person.

And no one from the leadership on the Republican side has reached out to me that it's time for us to sit down and work together on this. And I'm hopeful they win.

CAVUTO: Do you any conditions to that, Senator, when you talk about...

MANCHIN: The only condition we had was this.

I said let's repair what we have. I said, in West Virginia, if you tell people you're going to repeal something that means you're taking it away. If you're going to repair it, you're going to fix it and make it better.

And I have told President Trump, I said, Mr. President, you should be the Mr. Fix-It president. We can fix this. We know the private markets are messed up. We know that there's absolutely no restraints on how people are using their health -- newfound health care.

I have got people in West Virginia, and I have said this to our Democrat friends. We don't need to be insensitive enough or inhumane to throw people off or say you're going to lose it because you can't afford it. We're going to give you reasons how you can use it more efficiently and keep it.

Give them a chance. So, there's things we can do. We're willing to sit down and talk about this. But you can't just say repeal is out there and it has to be repeal or nothing. That's a political promise.

And I just don't think that's going to fly. And I'm hoping that they will sit down and work with us, Neil.

CAVUTO: The irony is, they're not repealing Obamacare, if you think about it, Senator.

MANCHIN: They're really not. I don't know why they're...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: They're keeping much of it intact. So, they could have won over more Democrats, saying largely it's intact. It's going to be smaller, different, funded differently, but it's largely intact, isn't it?

MANCHIN: But, Neil, the thing is that with the tax -- basically starting out with the $500 billion, $600 billion tax repeal, and then saying that you're going to make that up by making doing $700 or $800 billion of cuts.

We don't need to get there. We can get the -- I think we can get the savings that need to be in by utilizing it much better, but having better market -- having better products for the market that people want to buy into.

I think give some flexibility. There's a lot of things that moderate Democrats that we're willing to sit down and I'm willing to lead the charge and work with them. But we have to get down and say this and we're going to work with what we got in front of us and make it happen.

CAVUTO: I would be remiss, Senator, if I didn't mention all the dust-up over the president's latest tweets on Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, calling one, her, low-I.Q., crazy Mika, psycho Joe Scarborough, pretty blunt, pretty in your face, some say demeaned the presidency, demeaned President Trump.

What do you think?

MANCHIN: It's just -- it's uncalled for, totally uncalled for.

We can't stoop to that type on any shape, in any of us, in any form of life. I wasn't raised that way in West Virginia. I wasn't taught to be that way and talk about people and attack people continuously. This is not who we are.

You might have your difference with Joe and Mika. They're good people. And you can work with them. He's had times where the president and Joe and Mika have been pretty amicable through the campaign. And now, all of a sudden, it got to this. And that's just -- hopefully just -- just totally uncalled for. And I hope it doesn't continue.

CAVUTO: All right, so, many of his supporters have claimed, as his press secretary did earlier today, press spokesman, that, look, they say far worse to him.

You say that it shouldn't be a tit for tat on the part of the highest ranking official on the planet.

MANCHIN: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

MANCHIN: Well, here's the thing. I'm an elected official. And I have been governor, so at the highest level in my state. People said an awful lot of things. And I knew that. OK?

If I wanted to move forward and get something accomplished, I couldn't be drawn down into that element. And I never did let myself go there. I just wouldn't let it happen. And I said, I'm sorry you feel that way. That's not the person I am. You don't know who I am, so why don't you work with me?

CAVUTO: And what did they tell you?

(LAUGHTER)

MANCHIN: Well, we got a lot done in West Virginia, you know?

CAVUTO: OK. All right.

MANCHIN: We got a lot accomplished. You know why? The Republicans were my friends and the Democrats were my friends, because we're all West Virginians. We're all Americans.

And I just for some reason, Neil, I cannot believe this environment here that you have to be on one side or the other. The only side that I can tell you I'm truly 1000 percent is the Americans' side, being an American in the greatest country on Earth.

I happen to have a D by my name and I have a lot of dear friends that have an R by their name. But I guarantee you they will put their country first. Why we allow this discourse, I don't know. And why we play off of it and feed off of it 24/7, that is not something I'm going to partake into it and I'm not going to basically feed into.

CAVUTO: All right, but it comes at a time when this president, when you're R or D, is saying, I'm supporting coal, something near and dear to your state. Your party is not, not so keen on that.

What do you think of that?

MANCHIN: He's a good energy -- he's a good energy president. I appreciate that.

And I told him. I said, give us some stability in the market. And that's what you have done. The coal market as we knew it before when I was governor 2009 and '10, we were doing 150 million tons of production a year. We're down to about half of that now.

And all the 150 is not going to come back. But we can stabilize what we have, because we have lost a lot of the markets we have sold in to. And those are -- the people that bought it before are not there anymore. But they're going to need this for quite some time in order the stabilize the grid.

And that's -- we're a base load fuel. You have two months of coal laying on the ground, you are going to get two months 24/7 uninterrupted of energy. We know that. And so he's been good from that standpoint.

We have to find that balance between the economy and the environment. You can't throw caution to the wind for the environment. You don't have to over-regulate me to the point where you smother me and I can't breathe. That's what happened in the previous administration.

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

MANCHIN: So, I appreciate President Trump on his energy.

CAVUTO: That's a fair and balanced view of the president.

Thank you, Senator, very much. Good seeing you again.

MANCHIN: Thank you. OK, Neil, always good to be with you.

CAVUTO: All right.

END

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