A Conversation with US Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia (S3E05)

Senator Joe Manchin is one of the leaders of the United States Senate and he talks to us about issues important to both his home state of West Virginia and the nation. Converting away from fossil fuels efficiently is an issue he is working on, and he calls his ATV his second car.


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Joe Manchin: If you have a D by your name is a Democrat or an R by your name as a Republican, you’re on one side or the other. You’re the enemy or you’re the friend. That’s wrong. That’s not how I look at things. Never have people know Me is looking at. That’s Joe from West Virginia. If you make a mistake because you’re trying to blame somebody on the other side and you could care less about the problem you have, all you can do is publicly identify someone else at fault to make yourself look better and you shouldn’t be involved in public service.

That’s self-serving. That’s not public service. The government should be your partner, not your provider. If you think government is going to do everything for you, then basically I’m sorry, I’m not going to vote that way. And I don’t I vote basically for you to have all the opportunity to be everything that you desire to be, but you’ve got to make an effort to do.

David Martin: Welcome to the Good Government Show. I’m Dave Martin. And on this episode, we have a very special conversation with West Virginia’s senior Senator Joe Manchin. As I said on this show, I had the pleasure of visit West Virginia last year reporting on two stories. I found the stories there and what’s going on in the state fascinating. And all the folks I met are really committed to West Virginia as a result of my story on a program bringing young people back to McDowell County.

I got to meet and talk with former West Virginia first lady Gayle Manchin, and she was kind enough to connect me to her husband, Senator Joe Manchin. In a very evenly divided Senate, Senator Manchin is strive for unity and bipartisan support, and that’s made him one of the most important voices in the Senate. He has always gotten bipartisan support, and at times he’s come under fire for trying to do it.

But he certainly stays true to his own set of values. And you’re going to hear all about that. He’s a strong supporter for his home state. And even in the Senate, he continues to put West Virginia at the top of his priority list. So join me for a conversation with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The good government show is sponsored by NACO.

That’s the National Association of Counties County Government. It’s actually the oldest form of government in the United States, and it touches more people directly. Roads, highways, hospitals, schools, recycling law enforcement, water and sewers in most of the country, those services are maintained by the county. That’s county government. Naco is a nationwide organization that represents all 3069 counties across the USA.

Naco helps county government work better together to things like sharing best practices. Because when county government works well, well, that’s just good government. Welcome to the government show. I’m your host, David Martin. And we are very honored to have as our guest today Senator Joe Manchin as my new favorite state, West Virginia. As you know, I visited West Virginia and it was a really eye opening experience for me.

So I really appreciated your state and everybody that I met and talked to down there.

Joe Manchin: So that’s great. David It was. It’s my favorite state, too, I bet. I doubt I was born and raised there.

David Martin: Is it almost heaven?

Joe Manchin: It really is. You know, and the people really make it takes it. The rest of the way to have it is the people. So I think the beauty of the good Lord gave us and also the resources that we have, but also the people that basically call that home, whether they were born and raised like I was or were they smart enough to move there.

But it’s just a great place. It’s, you know, centrally located is just great. A lot of good things, a lot of good people make it a wonderful state to live.

David Martin: I think someone said you’d never meet a stranger in West Virginia.

Joe Manchin: Never, Never. I’ve told them I told them this. If you’re ever driving through our state migrate, say, to West Virginia and you have to have a flat tire, break down four, four or 5 minutes somewhere, be under your car trying to fix it for you.

David Martin: I have to tell you, Senator, I did get a few stares with my New York license plates. It’s like, who are you? But you know.

Joe Manchin: They want to make sure you’re not going to stay. They want to make sure you just enjoy the good state. So they had been approached by the men first to come to your aid if you needed it.

David Martin: All right. Let me let me just go through your background a little bit because you have a long record in politics. You were correct any of this. If I’m wrong, you were first elected to the West Virginia, the House of Delegates, which is the House of Representatives version of of West Virginia. You were a state senator. You were secretary of the state from 2000 to 2004.

You were elected governor and then you won a special election to the Senate. And so this is your third term as state senator, as a U.S. senator.

Joe Manchin: Yes, I finished out I finished out the Robert Sievers term. His term ran through 2012. He passed away June of 2010. I thought I could have appointed somebody as governor to finish out my second term as governor, which I enjoyed very, very much. But then we were found that that would not happen because he died outside of the constitutional window.

Okay, So I decision.

David Martin: And now you’re the senior senator from West Virginia.

Joe Manchin: Correct.

David Martin: All right. And in the in the U.S. Senate, you’re chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and you’re on the Senate Committee for Appropriations, the Senate Committees, Armed Services and the Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Joe Manchin: Correct.

David Martin: So I keep you busy.

Joe Manchin: Very much so. And the reason I’m on those committees, when Jay Rockefeller when I came here after Senator Burr’s passing was Senator Rockefeller was on a few other committees different that by Commerce. He was chairman of Commerce at the time. And then around for quite some time. Okay. And then I knew that the Veterans and Armed Services was something that I wanted to make sure that West Virginia was represented properly and had a voice.

So I said we have, you know, concerning population. I have more veterans per capita than most any state. So it’s a tremendous concern. Are the veterans being treated the way they should be and get the care they’re supposed to get? And also the admiration that we should all have for a person who wore a uniform trying to basically defend and protect me and all of us.

So I got on that committee. I think we’ve been very, very effective on that committee. I’ve been on Armed Services to understanding the military and also what the National Guard in West Virginia has to offer to the military. So I did that in appropriations. And then energy is a natural for me. Now being chairman really elevates that.

David Martin: Now, let’s have a complete disclaimer here. The only reason I know the only reason you’re here is because I had the pleasure of speaking with your wife last year. Gail Manchin, on a program called Reconnecting. McDowell went down to McDowell County, talked to some teachers, drove all around the county, and a lot of southern southern West Virginia. How is it going?

Can you give us a quick update on what’s going on down there?

Joe Manchin: Yeah, well, first of all, David, you give yourself much more credit than that and you did such a great job and basically you were open minded about and you were trying to find answers and look at basically evaluating what that area has been to this country and the energy it’s produced to what it is today. And we have a responsibility obligation to try to help them lift themselves back up.

So that’s what we doing and continues. That’s reconnecting. McDowell Well, you can only reconnect if you have educated, literate people that basically are having an opportunity. And that’s what the whole education movement is down there. Gail has been a driver of that ever since I was governor and she was first lady, right? She got very much involved and she got sick and tired of seeing a state.

Our county and a state that was taken over because of poor education attainment. But nothing ever changed. That’s when she kicked in and tried to make something.

David Martin: She is generally the person who said, Wait a minute, I can make this better.

Joe Manchin: Absolutely. Yeah, She was a part. She drove.

David Martin: It all and then she got a hold of Randi Weingarten, the deal, and then the rest is history.

Joe Manchin: That’s exact.

David Martin: Now, I was in downtown Welch, and I was with a guy named Cliff Moore, who you may remember from the House of Delegates extremely well. So the.

Joe Manchin: Best of the.

David Martin: Best. So every time was.

Joe Manchin: Cliff’s dad and I served together. Arnie and I served that House of Delegates 1982.

David Martin: So every time Cliff and I are out, we were driving around through McDowell through the area. He was like, Look, Dave, you could buy that house. Look, you could buy that house. And I have a I have a sailboat that I sail here in Oyster Bay, Long Island. And he’s like, look, there’s a river. You could put a boat there, you could put it there.

There’s a program there. So he he did his best try to get me to move to West Virginia.

Joe Manchin: Well, let me tell you, Cliff is the ultimate salesman.

David Martin: Yes, but what he said to me was when we were standing in downtown Welch, was, you don’t understand. He goes, When I was a kid, when I came down here, you couldn’t walk on the sidewalk. And he pointed to the rest. He said, See that place that used to be a nightclub? I was there every Friday night. This place was hopping.

And I know that what they wanted to do with the Renaissance Village was to make it an anchor for downtown. WELCH Just curious, how is that going?

Joe Manchin: Doing well, you know, they have now they have a movie theater there. They have eateries. They’re coming back and they have businesses. The retail lower end of the building. They built the first new building for how many years in McDowell County, but right in the center of Welch. And it gives us a chance. They cleaned up quite a bit.

They’re ready to go. We just need some opportunities. And now West Virginia has been a heavy lift here all his life. We might produce the energy at some of the finest coking coal that made the steel that built the guns and ship came from that.

David Martin: This is that coal town right now.

Joe Manchin: Is it in the is an awful lot more they have to offer there. We just have to make sure that we can show how to diversify and not lose the culture they’ve had forever.

David Martin: Speaking of diversify, so have you made it down for the coal town barbecue Cookoff yet?

Joe Manchin: I have not.

David Martin: All right, well, it’s on.

Joe Manchin: You know, I’ve been there before. It was, you know, not recent.

David Martin: It’s certainly on my list nicely. And I see they got a new sponsor, so I guess it’s going well.

Joe Manchin: I hope so. I’ll tell you, I’ve been there so many times and so many events. And, you know, they have one of the biggest veterans parades that’s in the whole area. I mean, it’s unbelievable. Is this of the things that, you know, the Rockford boys came from that area?

David Martin: Yes.

Joe Manchin: How Michigan, Homer, Hickam, all the books.

David Martin: Yes, yes, yes. A couple of we had actually we had the same book agent for a little while. Oh, yeah. And that’s what I’m sorry, the name of the town is also called Hotel.

Joe Manchin: Well.

David Martin: It’s just just a little bit west and north of Wells, correct?

Joe Manchin: It’s right. And it’s right in the same county. That’s where some of the some of the best quality is seems of coal came from as far as the high coking coal for making steel. And it was something really something.

David Martin: So let me just impress you slightly, if I can, with my with my West Virginia bonafides. I spent some time in McDowell working on the on reporting on McDowell, reconnected without issue. I went over to Boone County where they have the lavender farm there. This this year I’ve talked to.

Joe Manchin: Hey David that was called what I said called coal was coal.

David Martin: Coal, we call it. We have a fact checker on the good. Yeah.

Joe Manchin: I want to make sure, but I know.

David Martin: All right. Yeah, well, next trip, I spoke to the county commissioners from Mercer County and Tammy Fincher from Greenbrier County recently. And so I’ve done a little bit of research on what’s going on in West Virginia. And I guess the thing that everybody keeps talking about is the changing economy in West Virginia from a coal economy to a diversified economy.

So from your spot, both as a long time resident born and raised in West Virginia and a public official there now on the national level, how are you helping that process?

Joe Manchin: Well, the bottom line, in 2020, we started for the first time have an energy and energy bill. Myself and Lisa murkowski. At that time, we passed a piece of legislation, which is the Energy Act, first time in 13, 13 years. I think that we had a truly energy bill. She comes from Alaska, a very rich energy place. I come from West Virginia, where the highest production as far as energy.

But we know the diversification, which we say is an all in energy policy use. All you have. We have an abundance of natural gas in West Virginia. We have the ability and the workforce that can acclimate about anything you can throw at them. We know that hydrogen is something that’s coming on. We are open minded now to small modular reactors, nuclear, if you will, in areas that basically can continue to produce and ship the power that needs to be used around around the country.

We have the grid system in place. We’ve got everything in place because we industrialized many, many years ago, 100 years ago. We’re building railroads and here, there and everywhere else, we transport options here. We can do so much. And if you look at our state, we’re right in the middle of about two thirds of the population of United States, right in the middle within one day’s drive.

So we’re centrally located to really continue to be the energy hub. But you have to be open minded if you want to stick in the past. You can’t we can’t change the market. So as coal basically becomes less and less of an energy factor of production, of energy for the country. Yes, basically there’s other proper purposes for coal, but the rest of the world is demanding more coal coming from West Virginia than ever before.

So the coal mine is can be. But the demands there. But now we have the Marcellus Shale, we have the Utica Shale, we have the wet properties, we have a cracker coming. We have all these things happening. We have a chemical valley. We’ve been there for many, many years and now we’re able to use all of those to our advantage again to diversify and reinvent ourselves and also to be able to do it in a much more environmentally conscious, cleaner way.

But David, you cannot eliminate your way to a cleaner environment. You can innovate it, but not eliminate it.

David Martin: Well, I want to ask you about that, because the country needs horsepower. Sorry. A recent U.S. U.N. report came out that said that we are very close to a tipping point with climate change in the world. Shouldn’t we be doing everything immediately to get off of fossil fuel burning goals?

Joe Manchin: But the bottom line is you have seven or 800 million people have no energy at all in the world.

David Martin: Okay.

Joe Manchin: Different parts of the energy and is just basically becoming energized. Okay. And the demands there.

David Martin: Right.

Joe Manchin: China will not take its foot off the pedal. They’re building more and more fossil fuel plants and ever before in the history of the world and more demand. So the only way you’re going to basically be able to have any of those countries follow because they’re say, well, you built you are the greatest industrial site in the world.

The greatest economy and the greatest middle class, basically all the energy you had. Now all of a sudden you’re going to basically restrict me. I don’t think so. So what you need to do is incentivize them to use the cleanest of technologies. That’s why I say you can innovate your way. You need scrubbers, low NOx boilers, bag houses for mercury, carbon capture.

You need all of those things. If they’re going to still use the coal, we can use in a cleaner fashion to show them how to do it. You know, I remember growing up and you couldn’t hang. Mom couldn’t handle laundry. Well, that’s changed completely. We have transformed in the last 20 years and not gotten an iota of credit because people want to eliminate and keep using West Virginia as a whipping boy.

That’s wrong. We can be the leaders of innovation. And that’s what we’re doing, David. And also we’re open minded to all different forms, but we’re. David I will not go down the path that Europe has gone down. I will not go down the path where people says, you’ve got to charge carbon pricing, You got to put a carbon tax on everything that’s made that use carbon and penalize.

David That’s what Europe did and hasn’t fixed a thing. We’ve incentivized with the inflation reduction Act, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the things we have done is now showing the incentives are working and basically the taxes did not work. So I think you’re seeing so much innovation coming to West Virginia battery factories now we have new steel companies coming.

What’s a better, cleaner version of how they can make their steel using new technology? All these things are happening because we are innovating and not eliminating.

David Martin: Let’s talk about something that’s a whole different kind of innovation. And that’s one of the things that everybody talked to me about when I was in West Virginia, which is tourism specifically. I think the New River Gorge is the most recent national forest in the nation.

Joe Manchin: National Park? That’s National Park Reserve, Right.

David Martin: Did you have a hand in that? And how did that come up?

Joe Manchin: Oh, my goodness. It my yeah, myself and my counterpart, Shelly Capital, we led and got that done. We found it on the Energy Committee. We wrote it our energy committee, David Brooks, who’s basically been here for 30 years and understands more about public lands, the BLM, the park system and all that. We wrote that bill and working with Shelly and I together, we waited for the opening.

We had an opening and there was a time we could put it in. And we did. And it passed overwhelmingly. And now it is basically exceeding everyone’s expectation. Now we’ve got to get water and sewer. I’m fighting for extending the water and sewerage program there to meet the demand of people coming in.

David Martin: That was something that someone mentioned to me and Greenbrier is getting done.

Joe Manchin: That’s going to get done.

David Martin: What is the huge benefit for New River Gorge for the people of West Virginia and United States?

Joe Manchin: What basically puts literally puts you on the map when people are checking off, there’s people that travel around and they want to make sure they’ve they’ve gone to every national park in the nation.

David Martin: Yes.

Joe Manchin: The newest one being the closest one to the majority of the people in the United States is going to be the one that we even we didn’t anticipate the flood of people coming and like yourself, finding out about the quality of life, the good people we have, the beautiful scenery, the good Lord have given us everything. David Now it’s like we’ve been well ever since.

Covered to that we have been rediscovered.

David Martin: Well, I was sitting at a bar in Beckley and I was sitting there with three or four people there, and I said, You know, Hi, I’m from New York. I’m here to do some reporting on West Virginia, what’s going on? And I was again, I was in Beckley and everyone mentioned New New River Gorge, like, Oh yeah, you got to come to the park, you got to come, you’ve got to do this.

You gotta do that.

Joe Manchin: Well, we’re expanding. We have the Bechtel Center, which is a Boy Scout center. One of the largest is their home base for the whole Boy Scouts, United States of America, 10,000 acres on the most beautiful piece of property they have developed to one of the most scenic things. And also, participation wise, there are everything that we’re able to with that part of our state has so much natural beauty, rock climbing, if you like, rock climbing, river rafting, some of the best river rafting in the country is right in that area.

David Martin: Yeah, I’m not so good over that big high bridge. I’m not doing that. Sorry.

Joe Manchin: But you can go through the catwalk, you know, they’ll tell you and everything. So if you fall, you’re dangling.

David Martin: No heights. No heights. I’ll do, I’ll. I’ll stay close to the ground like that one. So one of the things I wanted to talk to you about, because we’ve been talking with lots of people at the local level, we haven’t really spoken with a lot of people on this show yet at the national level where you are. So you sort of wear two hats, you wear your West Virginia hat, and also, you know, a United States senator.

Is it hard to balance those two? Because sometimes the needs of West Virginia aren’t the same as the needs of the United States and sometimes the needs of the greater United States aren’t, you know, don’t answer the needs of West Virginia. How do you manage that and how do you balance that act?

Joe Manchin: I try to keep it from getting politicized and everything’s been politicized. You’ve been identified now, if you have a if you have a D by your name as a Democrat or by your name as a Republican, you’re on one side or the other. You’re the enemy or you’re the friend. That’s wrong. That’s not how I look at things.

Never have people know Me is looking at. That’s Joe from West Virginia. The bottom line is our state, David, has everything. We have the most on a population standpoint, percentage wise, more veterans per capita than about any state. So I don’t have to worry. Okay, what do I have? I only have one hat on that’s all encompassing. West Virginia, an American the same because we produced energy, the country’s neighbor, an energy exporter.

So we base energize the line that people enjoy every day. Okay, How are they doing? We do that. We’ve been able to to make the steel and everything else that it takes as far as the industrial might this country has needed. And then so when I’m looking at things, this is how we do it in West Virginia, because I think it’s all American.

We’re the American city. We’re the American state. If and I’ve always said this, if my country does well, my state or do just great because we contribute so much to the well-being of our country, I feel good about that. And it’s very easy for me not to worry about the politics and worry about the process that we’re doing and the progress that we’re making.

David Martin: Well, you talk about not worrying about the politics. You know, you have a very political job, however, and you know, your name gets in the papers. Sure. You know, you’ve mentioned you’ve talked a lot about bipartisanship, that that is something that you strive for every day. I’ve talked with people around the nation. And one of the things that they’ve said, especially at the local level, is if you are a Republican and you’re seen talking with Democrats, then you get it from one side.

And if you’re a Democrat and you are talking with Republicans, you know, is bipartisanship even truly possible? I mean, look at what’s going on in the US Senate. I mean.

Joe Manchin: Look at them. Look at the 1/17 Congress or the last two years, 20 to 22. We got more accomplished than ever in the history of the country.

David Martin: Yes.

Joe Manchin: Okay. Because we had to we were the most divided Congress that we’ve ever had for that period of time in the history of our in 40 years. Okay. So did you debate reality sets in. You’ve got to do something that day. But I’m not identified as a politician. I never wanted to be a politician. I just want to fix things.

Okay. You happen to get in there and you get identified. And up until I came to Washington, I never knew a Republican. I didn’t like it was my friend.

David Martin: Okay.

Joe Manchin: Okay. And still yet to this day, I don’t look it just because you have an r D and people says, well, things are changed, but a lot.

David Martin: Of hard but a lot of people are looking at a.

Joe Manchin: Lot of people aren’t. It’s a shame because you know why it’s the media keeps driving and driving and driving. They keep pushing and pushing and showing the sensational. And they said, remember the old theory of if it bleeds, it reads out. So basically, if you’re if you’re if you’re just sensational and say something absolutely crazy that people oh, yeah, I feel that way, too.

I’m mad as hell, too. So I’ll do this and do that. I just don’t do that. I’m not going to and cents and jury people. I said, Listen, we’re going to make mistakes. Yeah, but if you do make a mistake, honestly, try to make things better and fixing things, you can live through that. You can go back and have another day to correct it if you make a mistake because you’re trying to blame somebody on the other side and you could care less about the problem you have, all you can do is publicly identify someone else’s fault to make yourself look better, then you shouldn’t be involved in public service.

That’s self service. That’s not public service.

David Martin: That sounds good. Now, one of the things we’ve heard about from lots of folks, again, at the county level, county government level, is that you need to be present and you need to be engaged. Spending half of your time in Washington is that hard to maintain?

Joe Manchin: Yeah, but you feel well, you know, here we are in our age, everything you feel like you’re still in college again, going back and forth when you came back home.

David Martin: Okay.

Joe Manchin: Packing up and everything just just so in a efficient and it’s not effective what we should be doing here today, but we should be here three weeks straight through four weeks, Monday through Friday, three weeks, and then one week back home in your home state. Right now, every weekend, people Thursday afternoon at 230, they’re jumping on a jet, going somewhere in the world or in their country or back to their state.

Well, think of the poor people, the senators and congresspeople that live out West. That’s a tremendous how much time and effort and look at the cost the taxpayers are incurring on that. And then on the other hand, we don’t get to know each other cause we’re never here to say, hey, this weekend, can you get your wife? We’ll have dinner together and let’s do this or bring the kids over.

We don’t do any of that.

David Martin: Well, that’s really you bring up an interesting point. I worked for CBS News for many, many years and there was a gentleman who worked there for a very long time and said that one of the problems they have now is that everybody’s leaving to go home on the weekend to do fundraising and and as a result, we don’t know each other in back in the old days, Tip O’Neill and Bob Dole would be off in a corner with you with a cocktail sitting by themselves and work out a deal.

And come Monday morning they would hammer something out. And now it’s at a point where they don’t know each other. Is that is that fair? And how do we get good government back?

Joe Manchin: You’re completely accurate on that. But the bottom line is, is that the citizens of this great country are being forced to pick a side. They’re being forced to go to your corners and defended. They’re not basically being incentivized to basically come together and let’s fix it. We’ve got a lot of challenges. You’ve got inflation serious. You’ve got basically a border security situation which is out of control.

The border. You’ve got basically a worker shortage problem when you cannot fill nine, 10 million jobs. Even this much time after the COVID pandemic is over. You got all these things hitting you right now. You’ve got geopolitical unrest around the world. You’ve got Russia and China. Major threats, nuclear power, major threats. You’ve got all of this and you’re trying to maintain and balance it.

Well, the bottom line is, first of all, you have to be energy independent to be a superpower of the world. You have to have enough confidence in the finances of your country for people to look at us as the leader of the free world by having the reserve currency being the US dollar. You lose that day, but you’ve lost it all the all the clout that you have and all the might that you might need to hold the free world together.

And if you’re not able to produce and help your allies around the world with energy when they become less self-sufficient, and if you’re not able to use the might of your finances. So we have a runaway debt has to be controlled. Get your finances in order. You anybody listening and watching what we’re talking about now, if they have unmanaged debt, if they for 21 years in a row spent more money than they took in day, you wouldn’t be sitting there and I wouldn’t be sitting here.

True. And that’s what’s happened in this country. And no one’s talking about that. No one’s talking about that. They basically that the choking and life threatening debt that we’re facing as a nation to have confidence that the United States has its act together financially.

David Martin: So I read somewhere in your in your bio on your Web page that you held 500 meetings last year with different people in West Virginia around the state. Just curious, what are those people telling you when you meet with them?

Joe Manchin: The same thing. They just want opportunities, that’s all. They’re not looking for a handout. The main thing I would tell you and you asked me what about what’s government’s main purpose date is to be the best partner you’ve ever had.

David Martin: We’re going to get to those. We have the question here. Right here, Senator. Don’t you worry.

Joe Manchin: Oh, well, whatever. I’m just saying that you have to be the best partner in life. Okay? Government should be your partner, not your provider. If you think government is going to do everything for you, then basically, I’m sorry, I’m not going to vote that way. And I don’t I vote basically for you to have all the opportunity to be everything that you desire to be, but you’ve got to make an effort to be then.

Then I have a responsibility, a moral responsibility to take care of those poor souls that don’t have the ability. These are physically or mentally that can not perform and function. I think that’s a responsibility. We have a moral obligation.

David Martin: I want to ask you one more question before we get into the question here, which you just jumped into, which is fine. I again, you said that government should be a partner in job creation to us on the good government show. That sounds like good government. How does that work? How do you see that working and how do you how do you continue that?

Joe Manchin: Well, let’s take the inflation reduction Act as an incentivize. Okay. For years I’ve been hearing that I should be putting a carbon price or carbon tax on and just beating up the belittle out of out of the manufacturers that produce either the microphone you’re talking into, produce the table you’re setting out of the chair, you’re setting on that.

How much carbon did it take to make that? Then we’ll put a tax on it. Guess what? Around the country, around the world, over in Europe especially, they never use the proceeds from the tax to figure out how to make what you’re using right now with less carbon in it. We have to incentivize it. That’s innovate, that’s innovation.

That’s what we’re doing. So basically, government should be your partner. They have incentives, but, you know, there’s a there’s you can’t basically I’ve said, you know, just like having a 40 year old child, he said, hey, dad, where’s my allowance? You’re not going to make for a very productive kid. If at 40 years of age you’re not making it on their own for a lot sooner than that.

But also, did you give him an opportunity? Did you give him an opportunity to just show me there’s a there’s access to capital, there’s risk to be taken, but you’ve got to perform. And I’ve told president when I Bibi the build back better day but we’ve done too much, too much too quickly on in the marketplace. It’s causes a lot of problems but has prevented us from going into a financial crisis and a health crisis.

Now, with all the rest, how do we work our way out of you? Work your way out of it because you start reforming and you’ve got to make sure that you do that. And that’s that’s what it’s about. So this government give you an opportunity and an incentive to perform. If it doesn’t, then we’ve got a problem.

David Martin: All right. I could discuss these issues with you at forever, but we do have our questionnaire. I’m going to get into it.

Joe Manchin: Let’s go somewhere.

David Martin: All right, here we go. Define good government.

Joe Manchin: Good government is basically government that performs a function. It doesn’t give you the opportunity of a quality of life in a democracy where you have the protection of the Constitution, about who you are and the rule of law rules all of us. We’re all subjected to the rule of law and be treated equally.

David Martin: How do you judge your success? What do you use as your personal yardstick for whether you’re providing good government?

Joe Manchin: Well, basically, I was just just like, first of all, my miners, the coal miners in West Virginia and all over the country provided the energy for years and years. They they selected returning Vietnam veteran. We’ve done everything you’ve asked us to do. We’ve done all the heavy lifting and all the dirty jobs. And now you’re not welcome back.

We’re not good enough, smart enough or clean enough or green enough. That’s ridiculous. So basically, on that, I wanted to make sure they had their health care. I want to make sure that they had their pensions for all the hard work and sacrifices they’ve made on good government. From that standpoint, what else in government, basically, how do you treat your veterans?

How do you treat your senior citizens? Should a senior citizen have their quality of life to be able to live in dignity after all the work they perform? Absolutely. How do you make that more adjusted to basically doing the job it was supposed to do? Don’t be threatening the bejesus out of people by letting them think you’re going to cut Social Security, Medicare.

These are people that work for it and aren’t it? If the inefficiencies look at the inefficiencies, don’t look at the people that have gotten the reward from what their hard work has been. So government has to perform within Israel and it’s not doing that now. When you’re accumulating more debt faster than any time in history.

David Martin: And if people don’t think you’re living up to that standard, what should they do? The voters, the citizens, if they don’t think you’re living up to the the things that you say that you’re going to do, what should they do? Well.

Joe Manchin: The checks and balances election box. Okay, New York, you can go to the ballot box and make your decision. Is that person basically or what’s the purpose of their. So I’ve always said this if someone’s coming to you and asking you for your support and your vote and everything, if they’re if they’re going through that their day. But I’ve said ask a person if they.

So can you give me a contribution or donation? I would tell you to tell every politician I’m sorry. I don’t give contributions and donations to political people. I’m willing to make an investment, but I want to return. What should I expect from you If I vote for you, that should be your return on investment and whether you give them $1 or give them your vote, which is more valuable at the ballot box, expect something.

If a person can’t tell you what they’re going to try to fix and they don’t find the problem. Armageddon identifying that basically unmanaged debt will make cards out of all of us and they’ll take us in a very, very bad position. But all that and everything that we have is the opportunity create an opportunity here, bringing investments back, creating a good job that you can do.

That’s the process of government and that’s what we’re trying to do. But it needs to be secure, too. You have got to secure the borders. You can’t have an open border process, okay? And you need worker and you need worker visas. You need visa workers. We need people coming here for the right reason, the same way probably your grandparent or great parent, great grandparent came at some time.

They came here for a better quality of life. They didn’t come out here for a welfare check. No, they didn’t come for a handout.

David Martin: The migration.

Joe Manchin: That’s exactly mine came to basically did go.

David Martin: Okay, if if if people feel like they’re not getting good government, what would you like to see them do?

Joe Manchin: I like to see them get involved themselves. Get more involved. Don’t believe all the things you hear and basically identifying and picking a side because you said this side’s better than this side. Neither side’s very good. And I feel more comfortable on this side. And I do that side. If you don’t think either one are very good and you’re forced to pick a side, pick another side, force them back to the central middle, make sure that the how you operate your life, you might be extreme one way and extreme one way of thinking.

I guarantee you, when you make that final decision for you and your family, you’ll come back to the sensible middle to try to do something rational. That’s just where that’s where the country succeeds in being that stable.

David Martin: MIDDLE So you’ve been a state legislator, you’ve been a secretary of state, a governor, a senator. What would you like people to know about the inside of government and how government works?

Joe Manchin: I really, truly believe that people come for the right reason, but they’re basically rewarded for bad behavior once they get here. So the crazier things they do or the more extreme things are going to their respective corners, they seem to have people there that support that and start to send them finances or give them more verbal support. Yeah, the bottom line is you should be demanding more.

The person that you send here for the purpose they came. And if you don’t hold them accountable next. Here’s the thing, David. I’m not going to get involved in any of my senators elections, so I am not a threat to any Democrat or Republican up here. I do not give money just because a Republican friend of mine is up for reelection as a Democrat.

They expect me to write a check to whoever is running against my Republican friends in their state. I won’t do that. But that’s not the way this place works. So you’ve got people now that you’re supposed to be working with that might have come to your state and campaigned against you might have written checks. Yeah, might have gone out, might even campaign ads against you and then come back and they’re supposed to sit down on Monday and work through a process that makes it better and you’re going to get credit for it after you beat the living bejesus out of me.

That doesn’t happen. Just not human nature day. And that’s what I keep telling them.

David Martin: Well, government very slow. Government can be messy. What should people know about how government works?

Joe Manchin: Government supposed to be slow and it is messy. Okay. It’s called deliberate form. But they but but there’s Democrats right today that are that have been threatening and wanting to get rid of the filibuster. You get rid of the filibuster, Dave, and you lose democracy that was intended by the founding fathers. It designed this great country of ours and the politics that have.

And only thing I would tell you, if you want to know how a filibuster was intended, even though it’s not written anywhere, there’s no rules, nothing. The Constitution can you figure out when they basically said, we’re going to have two forms, we’re going to have two houses, we’re going to have the House of Representative, which is a people every two years you’re there among the people figuring what they need.

And then you’re going to have the upper house, which is the Senate that has a longer, more stable term. But the bottom line is, if someone had to go at some time in the 1780s and tell especially and we formed this government, can you imagine Thomas Jefferson or George Washington going to tell the legislators and the higher ups in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and say, guess what, guys?

We’ve got a new form of government and it’s called a republic. And they asked Benjamin Franklin, What do we have? We have a republic, if you can keep it. Well, the bottom line was someone had to tell those big bad states, but guess what? There’s 13 of you. And guess what? Delaware and Rhode Island have exactly the same representation that you have.

Wait a minute. I’m Massachusetts. I’m not. I’m at the heart of everything. And you’re going to give little Delaware the same veto power that I have. Yet. We’re not going to let the big boys be up on the little guys. We’re all in this. It’s called the United States, Not the divided states. And that’s the way intention. That means that every senator can speak on unrelated as long as they want to.

There is not encumbered. And the bottom line is that turned into a filibuster that stops being run over and then it turned into to the 67 vote threshold, then the 60 that because that’s the most stable form of government in the world, it doesn’t flip flop back and forth every time you get someone who’s in the majority, simple majority.

And we’re not going to have these super majorities the way this country’s divided.

David Martin: So who’s your political hero?

Joe Manchin: John Kennedy and my Uncle James.

David Martin: You’re all I’m sorry, your uncle.

Joe Manchin: I have an Uncle James who was the most retail politician I ever met in my life.

David Martin: What did he do?

Joe Manchin: He was involved with him and the Kennedys. He campaigned for the Kennedys back in the 16. That’s where my family got very much involved.

David Martin: I think West Virginia was the state that carried John Kennedy to the presidency. Is that correct?

Joe Manchin: West Virginia gave him the gateway to the presidency because basically the political, political at the time were saying that Catholic can’t win, become president. Right. And I’ll never forget, I’m watching television one night as a young boy, 12, 13 years of age. And I met and my mother had a real little black and white television ad. So it might have been Walter Cronkite.

It’s the subject of John Kennedy becomes president. Then the pope will run the country. And I look at my mom and I said, Mom, they don’t know the Catholics. We know.

David Martin: All right. So I have been to West Virginia. I have had a few meals there. What is your favorite West Virginia dish?

Joe Manchin: Oh nine You have to understand, that’s it’s I come from an Italian family that had the greatest cooks. Good. My great grandmother.

David Martin: In Brooklyn right now. So let’s talk.

Joe Manchin: Okay. And my friend and my grandmother, Mama Kay and right now, my granddaughter Kelsey Kirby, who’s opened up and and basically in honor of my grandmother, it’s called Mama KS the best Daddy, all traditional meals that we all grew up with. She’s now offering him Where.

David Martin: Is my little race.

Joe Manchin: In Morgantown, West Virginia, and Morgantown stars. And it’s a wonderful woman over for about a month. You ever get caller All right. Take care Operation Finest Hour. But it’s the greatest curial Italian food or eat in whatever you want, I can.

David Martin: Tell you exactly right.

Joe Manchin: Yeah. You absolutely let me know you’re coming and she’ll there it. So Italian food is my favorite.

David Martin: All right. Is there is there a regional West Virginia dish that your father does?

Joe Manchin: Well, you know what I just last night had a famous pepperoni rolls with all the sauce and trimmings. Pepperoni in them and the cheese and the sauces. And it was. That was my dinner last night. I’ve been craving that for a while, so that’s that’s always a good one.

David Martin: So you said when you were a kid you watched your family get John Kennedy elected. Would growing up, was this something you aspire to? Do you want to be president himself?

Joe Manchin: Never. I never want to get involved in politics. I’ll watch my uncle from afar. And I watched all the people, my and my dad and all of them were very much involved. But, you know, behind the scenes, my mom, my dad, my grandfather were both mayors of our little town, but there’s only four or 500 people. So it’s a very small thing.

But they thought they just had to contribute and give something back.

David Martin: Okay.

Joe Manchin: So I’ve always been and I’ve always been instilled in me this is a great opportunity and the greatest country on earth. We have got to make sure that we do everything we can to keep it that way. You have to be involved. So I was always involved, but up until 35 years of age is when I ran the first time.

Okay, I had 3 to 4. By that time I was not intending to go down the political road.

David Martin: And then suddenly here you are.

Joe Manchin: And then suddenly, once I got involved, I was one of 100 and a house of delegates. I figured if I ran for the state Senate, I’ll be one of 34. I could help three times as many people if I become governor, I mean 1 to 1, I could really make a difference. And God, that was the greatest job ever, ever had in my life, because every day I got up could make someone’s life better.

And I didn’t want to go to bed at night because I thought I missed something. I could help more people and now become in the Senate and it goes backwards again. And now here you are in a process. It’s just slower than Moses. But when you do something right and you can help millions and millions of people and we were able to do that with what we helped all of our miners and pensions and things of that sort.

In our health care, you’re able to do something that really can affect the whole world. And the US Senate, it takes a patient, takes the patience of Joe.

David Martin: But Governor, you thought was the best job.

Joe Manchin: Best job ever had. Really? Well, I’m more executive minded per I want to think you become I mean you get and you said, Joe, help me. And I said, David, sure, I can help me and I can do that. Well, I know I could do it.

David Martin: Would you like to announce your candidacy for president now?

Joe Manchin: I’m going to be anywhere I can help my country to be the country that that has given me the opportunity to do everything I can to help them.

David Martin: So let’s bring it back to good government. Give me an example of a good government project that you’ve done for West Virginia or for for the nation.

Joe Manchin: Well, basically, in West Virginia, what we were able to do, what you’re talking about right now as a senator or as governor.

David Martin: All right. Now, Senator.

Joe Manchin: First of all, let me just tell you as governor. Well, I’ll give you that. Okay?

David Martin: Sure.

Joe Manchin: I’m a governor, brand new governor in 2006. We have the state coal mine disaster. And my goodness, I’ve been around mine disasters all my life. And there was so much that could be and should have been done to protect more miners. And it wasn’t done. And two weeks later, we have another one at Aracoma. And in 2000, we shut all the mines down.

We went through safety inspections and start changing basically how do we save lives? And these people who are so courageous, they’re basically productive, producing the energy the country needs. How can we make sure that when they go to work, their families aren’t to worry about them coming home? We made tremendous strides and changes in that. And I felt good about that because I knew that our goal was this.

I can’t tell you. I can tell you how much I continuous. Miner cost a piece of equipment cost. I can’t tell you the price of a miner because they’re priceless. So once we got every company understanding you cannot replace the human being that runs the machinery that you know you can buy for X amount of dollars, you better do everything you can.

So how we I try to get a mentality that if a miner is responsible, if a miner basically says this is unsafe conditions and I should not be here, nor should my fellow workers, they had the ability to pull the plug and shut it down and we gave them a private line to call in if they were forced of doing something that was unsafe so we could make sure they were in a safe condition.

That’s manufacturing, that’s mining and everything. That’s good government. That helps basically put the perspective of what needs to be done. Then the little things we’ve done, things where there were highway when I was governor, I made a make sure in West Virginia we put every berm we could because we’re going between mountains and on the side of mountains, we need roadways where people can ride a bike or walk or whatever.

And we tried to widen the roadways. That’s a little thing, but it’s conscious enough to think, hey, that’s a lot safer than what we’ve had and it’s a lot better for us. So just those types of things. But also the most important thing going that the shutdown to a in July, when I say the financial collapse of the banks.

Yep, we were rated one of the best one of the top three in the nation as far as how we physically manage our money. And we did that and raised our credit rating and everything else because I made sure that fiscal responsibility was something that I knew that people would take take great heat and, if you will, and coming to the state knowing their money wasn’t going to be wasted.

And basically we’ve done that and I continue to try to carry that. I got a lot of work to do on that here. And, you know, and I asked my grandfather should go and I said, Hey, father, what’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans? I was a young kid, right? He said he said, I’ll tell you, not a whole lot.

He said, if you put a pile of tax money in a table, they’ll both spend it all. Now, the Republicans will feel bad about it. But I’ll tell you, they’ll spend it all both on. And he was so right. And that was 60 years ago. He told me that’s so true today as it was then.

David Martin: I just want to ask you one more question. I ask everyone in West Virginia. This was the last time you are here.

Joe Manchin: Oh, my goodness. I rode ATV. I went to head from a trail and done that. And I’m on an ATV back where every chance I get with the house we get everybody has ATVs. What do you.

David Martin: Mean? I Well, I did not know that till I started talking to people.

Joe Manchin: So we all have a device.

David Martin: We all have a straw wife. I said, where you or she goes out the door.

Joe Manchin: Our second car.

David Martin: There in the garage. We still have our senator. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure to talk with you. Best to your wife and I hope to meet you sometime down in West Virginia.

Joe Manchin: Thank you. Day, please come. You’re welcome anytime. And go to mama. Mama can also take care of you. Will do. Okay. Thank you.

David Martin: The good government show is sponsored by our CO. That means our community. Our CO has found a way to make government even more effective. Our CO provides a platform that blends in-person and digital interactions and that connects people with their government. Their mobile app transforms meaningful conversations into reliable data, and the result is actionable insights that inspires a positive change.

It’s sort of like having a flagpole. Do you want to know if the community would rather have a dog park or a bike trail? Our coach can get you an answer immediately from the folks in your community. With our CO, you can engage your citizens or any group, learn what they want and build programs and policies that advance your county, your job creators and your constituents.

So visit our COCOM. That’s 0urco dot com and learn how they do it. And while you’re there, book a demonstration. That was my conversation with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. As you heard, his ATV is his second car. See, I continue to learn a lot about Stokes and West Virginia and this time he mentioned the Hatfields and McCoy trails not made but a good discussion about government, a little government history and his deep ties to West Virginia.

And a short lesson on the filibuster. Best of all, I got a good tip on a good Italian in West Virginia at Monica’s in Morgantown. So overall, a very informative conversation with Senator Joe Manchin. Join us again right here where you listen to podcast. This is the good government show. Join us next time for another conversation with another leader in government.

I’m Dave Martin. Thanks. Listening to the Good Government show and a conversation with is produced by Valley Park Productions. Jim Ludlow, David Martin and David Snyder are the executive producers. Our editor and producer is Jason Stershic. This is the good government show. Thanks for listening.

**This transcription was created using digital tools and has not been edited by a live person. We apologize for any discrepancies or errors.