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This week, Sen. Joe Manchin criticized President Obama for failing to lead on the budget, according to Politico.  Manchin is in a tight spot politically considering the nationwide sentiment against the Pelosi/Reid Congress.  The concern of the voters is for fiscal responsibility.  So, Manchin will be voting against the Democrat plan of 10 billion in cuts because it is unserious.  But he also will vote against the Republican plan of 61 billion because it is “partisan”?  Somewhere between that 50 billion spread there is responsibility and non-partisanship.

Don Suber at the Daily Mail writes that Manchin is a “fiscal conservative.”  Is he?  It is true that the libertarian CATO Institute gave Manchin high marks as governor of the state:

Joe Manchin of West Virginia has been a popular governor for good reason. The state economy has done well under his fiscal policies of business tax cuts and relatively frugal budgeting. Manchin cut the corporate income tax rate, eliminated the corporate license tax, and phased out the business franchise tax.

CATO even praised him in 2009.  But that was Manchin as Governor.  And he sort of lucked into the economic situation as the revival of coal and shale business in the state increased receipts. CATO missed something, however:  Manchin left West Virginia in one of the worst positions of any state in regard to unfunded liabilities as a share of GDP.  That is not fiscally responsible, much less “conservative.”

Manchin as Senator is not as fiscally conservative as we might expect.  Soon after he took his seat, he voted with his party to reject repeal of the health care bill.  As we now know, that bill adds costs to the budget and will increase the deficit.  West Virginia is not a left leaning state in many ways.  Manchin has to run to the center/center-right to stave off a serious challenge.  I am not sure his latest threading the needle allows him to do that.  His votes in the Senate seem to call into question his conservatism.  Look for Manchin to be pressed in the general by some state-wide known Republican.

Politico has the video, below:

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

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