Cumberland Times-News

January 19, 2013

Manchin pushes ‘No labels’ concept

West Virginia senator co-chairing effort to end gridlock in Congress

From Staff Reports
Cumberland Times-News

— BECKLEY, W.Va. — Movements have risen and fallen over the years along the Potomac River, but the latest political fad, known as “No Labels,” just could end the gridlock in Congress, said Sen. Joe Manchin.

Manchin said he feels so strongly about the concept that he is not only serving as a co-chairman, along with former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, but is conducting a public relations tour across West Virginia to get the message out.

His first stop Tuesday was via a telephone news conference call with state reporters. He and Huntsman, a Republican, feel they can recruit enough members to swell their ranks to 75 or 80 by the end of the year, and that number would exert sufficient influence to start seriously addressing the soaring debt. So far, 25 have signed on.

“No Labels is the vehicle that has the opportunity for that to happen,” the senator said.

In two years since he has been in Congress, the senator said he has never seen any effort, nor ever been invited to any attempt to forge a bipartisan caucus to discuss America’s shortcomings. The idea behind No Labels is to avoid extremism and cast partisanship aside to strive for real solutions to the huge problems confronting the nation.

Without such a working model to find answers, what happens is, members wind up putting in a mere three-day work week, Manchin said.

“We spend more time traveling back and forth collectively all over the country, going back to our home districts, home states, than we do governing,” he said.

“Something is broken when you don’t build relationships.”

Foremost among those in the vanguard of No Labels is the nation’s spiraling debt, and the impact it will have on the next generation, as the bills keep piling up with a feeble revenue stream to keep abreast.

For that reason, Huntsman told reporters, hundreds of young people have been attracted to the movement.

“Every generation of young people has an issue that compels them to get involved politically,” said Huntsman, who formed a friendship with Manchin when the latter was West Virginia’s governor.

For this one, Huntsman said, the thought of massive public debt is one that prompts fears that their generation is destined for shipwreck.

“We can do something about that as problem-solvers,” the former Utah governor said.

Manchin chuckled at first, when one reporter suggested lowering the debt ceiling, rather than raising it, and operating financially from that perspective. After all, the reporter told him, raising the ceiling is akin to an individual getting a new piece of plastic after maxing out a fistful of credit cards.

“What a novel idea you have,” Manchin responded.