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Capito, Manchin speak to state chamber about variety of topics


The Herald-Dispatch

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — West Virginia’s two U.S. senators Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., both spoke to chamber members Thursday at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s 81st Annual Meeting and Business Summit at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs.

Capito said she is all in on President Donald Trump’s plan to reform taxes.

“Most business owners I have spoken with in West Virginia said the biggest impact we can have on their businesses is tax reform,” she said. “It means more capital to invest, that means more capital to raise wages, that means more capital to hire people.”

Capito also spoke about trying to solve the most immediate problem with health care following the failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.”

“Working people can no longer afford their health insurance,” she said. “Their premiums have gone up in West Virginia 169 percent over the past several years and as much as another 30 percent this upcoming year.”

Capito said hopefully the immediate problems with health care can be solved in when Congress reconvenes in September.

“People really do need help and it’s not working for many people in the state of West Virginia,” she said.

She also talked about her efforts to fix the digital divide in West Virginia with her broadband initiatives, as well as diversification efforts that focus on economic development, tourism, health care and education.

Manchin said he wants to work with President Trump and hopes that he and Capito can be the model of bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate.

“It really shouldn’t matter if you are Democrat or Republican,” he said. “It should be about purpose and policy and not about politics.”

Manchin said only a bipartisan effort change the current health care system.

“Everyone from both sides of the aisle must have input into the process, but we are going to fix it with a bipartisan approach,” Manchin said. “It think it can be fixed and we can move forward.”

Manchin said it’s time to redo and simplify the country’s tax code.

“We need to cut the corporate tax rate so that U.S. companies can compete in the global marketplace,” he said.

Manchin also spoke about West Virginia’s workforce.

“We hosted 20 job fairs in the last year and a half, but we have had a hard time finding enough people to fill the jobs,” Manchin explained. “Three things keep people out of the workforce: addiction, conviction or lack of skill sets, or a combination of those three.”

Manchin said for the first time in his lifetime, the state has fallen under 50 percent in workforce participation.

“We have 49.6 percent of adults of working age in West Virginia working,” he said. “What happened? The national average is around 63 to 64 percent. West Virginia workers are the best in the world, but we just can’t find enough of them right now and that’s a big challenge we have.”

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