The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

January 26, 2011

Manchin reaches across aisle on health care reform mandate

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he and a Republican senator are demonstrating that members of both parties can work together when presented with undesirable legislation like the 1099 mandate of health care reform.

Manchin and Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., held a joint teleconference Tuesday regarding repeal of section 9006 of the health care bill. The mandate requires that small businesses file a 1099 IRS form for every transaction over $600. Republicans and Democrats have favored repeal of the mandate because it burdens small businesses with increased paperwork and costs.

“West Virginia and Nebraska have a lot in common — good, hard working people and, basically, our concern for common sense legislation,” Manchin said. “This is common sense, it’s bipartisan. Me being a Democrat, a former governor of West Virginia and you a Republican, former governor of Nebraska, I think maybe we can show them how to work together.”

The bill, introduced by Johanns, has gained a great deal of support with at least 50 senators signing on to co-sponsor the legislation as of Tuesday morning. Since Manchin, the first Democrat to sign on as a sponsor, the repeal, called the Small Business Paperwork Elimination Act, has gained a lot of support from other Democrats as well.

Johanns called the bill was a “very straight-forward solution to a significant problem.” The repeal would spare small businesses, family farms, churches, charities, local governments and other organizations from filing the 1099 for every vendor where the business spends over $600.

“Many times in Washington we talk of estimates and theories when the reality is this legislation affects real people,” Johanns said. “It has a very direct impact on them.”

Johanns and Manchin are not in complete agreement about the health care bill. Johanns has supported a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Manchin said he wants to take a “repair” approach so as to keep beneficial aspects of the bill.

“There’s a lot of people that have talked about repeal. I, for one, have taken the approach of repairing what needs to be repaired,” Manchin said.

Manchin said this is only the first step, and senators will be taking many steps “to repair a lot of government” in the coming months.

Johanns said though he would support full repeal, the 1099 mandate was a particularly bad piece of legislation that needs to be repealed.

“I never saw this as an appropriate part of the health care bill. I think it was really thrown in there to try to raise some revenue,” Johanns said. “It has nothing to do with health care whatsoever.”

Manchin said he thinks this move will show the American people that when something is wrong, the American government is capable of identifying it and working together to right the problem without resorting to party battles.

“We’ve been divided too long. I think this is what the American people want. I’m sure in Nebraska, like West Virginia, this is what they want, what they expect from their elected officials and leaders. I’m proud to be part of this with you,” Manchin told Johanns Tuesday.

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