Manchin Differs With Sanders About Debt Limit, Acknowledges ‘Crippling Debt’
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, talks to reporters before a hearing with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on May 19, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Kevin Dietsch via Getty Images

Speaking at a Fortune CEO conference on Thursday, West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin acknowledged the nation is suffering from “crippling debt” and suggested that changes be made to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid.

In 2022, major entitlement programs including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and other health care programs will reportedly eat up nearly half — 49% — of all federal spending.

“We cannot live with this crippling debt,” Manchin said, according to Bloomberg.  “If we can’t come to grips of how we face the financial challenges this country has, then we’re all going to be paying a price that we can’t afford.”

According to the Social Security Board of Trustees, Social Security will go bankrupt in 2034. “That means anyone 55 or younger today won’t receive a single full benefit, and most current retirees will be subject to 23% benefit cuts—an average loss of $4,400 per year,” Rachel Greszler of The Heritage Foundation noted, adding, “Taking measures like gradually shifting to a flat benefit, slowly raising the retirement age and indexing it to life expectancy, using a more accurate inflation measure, and eliminating work disincentives would protect and improve Social Security.”

Manchin’s comments fly in the face of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who told The New York Times that Democrats should raise the debt limit quickly in case the GOP wins the House or Senate, claiming the GOP would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The United States national debt passed $31 trillion for the first time ever in early October, according to data from the Treasury Department.

“The newest debt milestone implies over $93,000 in liabilities per citizen and nearly $247,000 per taxpayer,” The Daily Wire pointed out, adding, “Policies enacted by President Joe Biden will contribute more than $4.8 trillion in new deficit spending between 2021 and 2031, according to an analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.”

Despite Manchin’s posturing on the national debt, in late July he agreed to vote for the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, claiming it would “address record inflation by paying down our national debt.”

“It is past time for America to begin paying down our $30 trillion national debt and get serious about the record inflation that is crushing the wages of American workers,” Manchin declared.

He praised the Democratic leadership in Washington, stating, “President Biden, Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi have committed to advancing a suite of commonsense permitting reforms this fall that will ensure all energy infrastructure, from transmission to pipelines and export facilities, can be efficiently and responsibly built to deliver energy safely around the country and to our allies.”

He concluded, “I support the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 because it provides a responsible path forward that is laser focused on solving our nation’s major economic, energy and climate problems. The question for my colleagues is whether they are willing to put their election politics aside and embrace the commonsense approach that the overwhelming majority of the American people support and will best serve the future of this nation.”

The Inflation Reduction Act was criticized by some; a UPenn-Wharton assessment stated it would “very slightly increase inflation until 2024 and decrease inflation thereafter” at a rate “statistically indistinguishable from zero.” The assessment also concluded that the final version would “slightly reduce GDP in the first decade while slightly increasing GDP by 2050.”

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