WASHINGTON – Congress has taken the lead in bringing needed fiscal discipline to the economy, West Virginia's governor said Saturday.
"By making college more affordable, passing the first minimum wage increase in a decade and cutting taxes for middle-class Americans, the Democratic-led Congress has already laid the groundwork to turn our economy around," Gov. Joe Manchin said in the Democrats' weekly radio address.
The best way to build on that groundwork, he said, is to elect a Democrat as president.
"It's time we establish fiscal discipline so our children and grandchildren don't have to pay for the recklessness of unbalanced budgets," Manchin said. "And I believe that it's going to take a Democratic president to balance the budget, pay down the debt and help struggling middle-class families achieve the American dream."
The governor, who is seeking a second term in office, said he applauds the efforts of President Bush and congressional Democrats to pass a stimulus package to help the ailing economy.
The House passed a $161 billion stimulus plan this week that would send $600-$1,200 tax rebates to more than 100 million Americans in hopes they would spend the money quickly and give the flagging economy a shot in the arm.
Senate Democrats are pushing to amend the House plan to add smaller rebates that would go to more people, including low-income older Americans, wealthier taxpayers and disabled veterans. The Senate's $204 billion plan also would provide heating assistance for the poor and extend unemployment benefits.
While praising those efforts, Manchin said long-term fixes will be more difficult.
"Democrats across the country are committed to a more enduring challenge -- retaining and creating the good jobs with benefits that our people deserve," Manchin said.