WHEELING - U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin doesn't think it's enough to cut $1.5 trillion in spending from the federal budget. Instead, he is pushing for $4 trillion in reductions.
Manchin, D-W.Va., has sent the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction ideas for cuts, suggested by West Virginia's residents through his website.
The "super committee" is charged with slicing $1.5 trillion from the budget by Thanksgiving, and Manchin said "every economist" believes the figure should be closer to $4 trillion.
"If that is all they do (cut by $1.5 trillion), they are not going to fix our economy," he said of the panel. "Let's go big. We can keep our core programs. We don't have to cut Social Security, but we can cut down on wasteful spending and fraud.
"We can get the country back in shape without scaring the bejeebers out of people and taking their programs away," he added.
Manchin said "quite a few" West Virginia residents submitted suggestions on how the nation's spending could be reduced. The most common response from residents was for government to crack down on wasteful and fraudulent expenditures, he noted. Mountaineers also said the federal government should stop spending taxpayer dollars to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.
Other suggestions included closing corporate tax loopholes and reducing subsidies for oil companies, according to Manchin, as well as making the federal tax system "more fair."
The former governor cited the financial success West Virginia's government has had in recent years following moves toward tort reform and paying down pension debt.
"We did things in West Virginia people never thought possible," Manchin said. "We never looked back. When our country was slowing down (financially), we were always making adjustments.
"I know it works," he continued. "If it works here, it'll work anywhere - but people have to believe in it. People need to see us make difficult decisions that make a difference."
Manchin said most members of Congress have sent the "super committee" recommendations for cuts.
"We're encouraging them," he said. "I just hope they quit worrying about the 2012 election and start worrying about the generations to come."
He acknowledged the committee's work could become fraught with politics, with the 12 members - six Democrats and six Republicans - seeking to both take credit for accomplishments and to blame the other side for failures.
"I just hope and pray they don't," Manchin said. "So far it's been quiet, and I hope it stays that way."