Sen. Joe Manchin said Wednesday he sensed a bipartisan spirit among the Republicans and Democrats meeting for dinner and to talk about tax reform with with President Donald Trump at the White House Tuesday night.
“There were seven of us, four Republicans, three Democrats,” said the West Virginia Democrat on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, noting that Vice President Mike Pence, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were also present.
“We started with a lot of talk about infrastructure,” Manchin said. “The president basically [went] back and forth about the exciting things that can happen, how we can work together, but public-private means not just turning things over, but building it quicker and faster . . . so we got right into tax reform, and the president was adamant that this is not a tax cut for the rich.”
The president’s plan, he continued, is an overhaul, as “we have not changed this tax code for many many many years. You have to compete in the marketplace and we’re in the global market.”
Manchin pointed out that nobody has seen the details of Trump’s plan, and that he made it clear to the president that he “cannot look at my 10 babies, my wonderful grandchildren, and say ‘look at what we left you.'”
Pence, in a speech in West Virginia, pointed out the current tax code is nine times bigger than the bible, “‘without any good stories,'” said Manchin, pointing out that Pence was right.
“It needs to be changed,” the moderate Democrat said. “We’re talking middle class, mainstreet. That is what they were talking about. I’m thinking hey, I’m excited about this, let’s see what happens . . . I’m open-minded about this.”
Trump is popular in West Virginia, and the White House is planning a tour soon to push the tax reform plan. Manchin said he’d be willing to welcome him there and be on stage with him.
“My state is open,” Manchin said. “In West Virginia, we welcome, that’s who we are. We welcome anyone and everybody, especially the president, whoever he or she may be. So if they ask me to be there, absolutely I will be there. I’m going to do the best I can, but I’m going to put it on my best foot to welcome everyone that wants to see the channels we have.”
Meanwhile, Manchin said he does not believe that the Democratic Party is moving too far left, as some watchers believe.
“West Virginia is right in the center and we have more Democrats registered still than independents, but they’re saying it didn’t work too much on the Democratic side, I’ll try the Republican side,” Manchin said. “I have to find a way to bring that forward and that means working with everyone. The far left, that’s not where I am. I can recognize and I appreciate where they’re coming from, but it’s not who I am and who I will be. I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate. I will not make you pay for something I want to make myself look good.”