Joe Manchin, the former West Virginia governor who was so concerned when he ran for Senate in 2010 about being associated with the Obama administration that he cut a TV ad where he fired a rifle through his fellow Democrats' cap-and-trade bill, was apparently somewhat disappointed by the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling this morning upholding Obama's signature health care law. Here's his statement released after the opinions were handed down:
We should all recognize that the health care challenges that many West Virginians and Americans face are not going to go away unless Congress takes additional action to repair this bill. Now that the Court has ruled, we can move forward with fixing what is wrong with this bill and saving what is right. I have always been determined to reduce the burden on states from the Medicaid expansion, and this ruling affirms my position – and makes clear that states must have the flexibility to live within their means by determining Medicaid eligibility as each state sees fit. I have always said one size doesn’t fit all.
In addition, I believe there are several parts of this bill that are good for West Virginians: especially ending discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, improving access to preventive care and eliminating the prescription drug donut hole for seniors. Looking ahead, we must work to find common ground on the individual mandate, which doesn’t make sense to West Virginians. I am determined to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move forward with a solution.
Facing a conservative, mostly white West Virginia electorate that, while traditionally Democratic, is apparently disgusted with the Obama White House—Obama won the Democratic primary there last month but lost 40 percent of the vote to a convicted felon still behind bars—Manchin seems to believe he needs to keep distancing himself from the president (and his health care law) as aggressively as possible. He's up for re-election this fall (2010 was a special election), and whether he takes aim at another Obama initiative before November is an open question.