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Manchin speaks out about proposed budget deal

By Debbie Rolen, The Logan Banner, W.Va.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Dec. 13--U. S. Senator Joe Manchin held a press conference for the W.Va. press Wednesday afternoon to go over the new budget proposal introduced by Senator Murray and Congressman Ryan, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 to provide budget certainty through 2014 and 2015.

The legislation reduces the deficit by $20 -- 23 billion while also replacing some of the across-the-board sequester cuts in 2014 and 2015 with targeted reforms and more thoughtful spending cuts.

Manchin said it does not have everything he wanted in it, but it is a step in the right direction.

"I've been here for three years and we have not had a budget to work off of. This is the first year we have had that happen. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing."

The $63 billion in sequestration relief is split evenly between defense and non-defense.

"The sequestration will kick back in 2016," said Manchin.

There will be a $20 -- 23 billion in net deficit reduction over the next ten years.

Limits will be imposed on the amount contractors can be reimbursed by the federal government to $487,000, instead of the $952,308 under current law.

"The way contractors are paid, the $952,000 is outrageous. Even at $487,000, it is twice as high as it should be," said Manchin.

This deal shows work toward energy independence, with increased access to offshore energy resources: Approves the US-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement to improve our ability to develop and explore hydrocarbon reservoirs that cross the maritime international boundary in the Gulf of Mexico.

There will be efforts to rein-in waste, fraud and abuse by improving collection of unemployment insurance overpayments; requires parents to take personal responsibility for child support in Medicaid population when they can afford to pay; restricts access to Death Master File to prevent criminals from stealing personal information from dead people and using it to commit fraud; prevents inmates from receiving improper benefits from the federal government; cancels unobligated balances within DOJ and Treasury that are no longer needed

There will be an increase in the contribution to the retirement program by any new federal employee of 1.3 percentage points from 3.1 percent of pay up to 4.4 percent. There are some federal employees that currently pay 3.3, and they will see an equal increase up to 4.7 percent. This would bring them up to about what the State of West Virginia workers contribute according to Manchin.

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"The thing that is encouraging is that Democrats and Republicans were able to come up with a deal that is more than a three or six month resolution," said Manchin.

Manchin says another even bigger thing that needs to be done is corporate and individual tax reform, but for the time being, this is where we are.

He believes the deal may be up for a vote as early as this weekend and is optimistic it will be approved.

"All in all, it is a start. If you want to be against this bill and say it doesn't do enough, you can be. If you want to be in a positive mood and vote for it, which is what I'm going to do, you can do that too."

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(c)2013 The Logan Banner (Logan, W.Va.)

Visit The Logan Banner (Logan, W.Va.) at www.loganbanner.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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