Via The Hill, I see that West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin has altered his rhetoric on health care reform, yet again. Originally he said he supported the Affordable Care Act, while allowing that it had some flaws in need of fixing. Then he announced he favored repeal, but clarified that he meant only repeal of some relatively modest portions. Now, in an interview with Fox News, he's doubled-down on repeal, saying he wants to get rid of "Obamacare" unless "a lot of it" can be undone.
DOOCY: I know a while back you did support the president’s reform of the health care system in the United States. You were behind it. Now, however…
MANCHIN: See, no I wasn’t. Let’s be accurate on that.
DOOCY: Well you, I’ll give you a chance. You were supportive of it. Now, you’re calling for repeal of part of it.
MANCHIN: I still and have always been in support of health reform. If anybody believes that a child should be left off of their parents and also pre-existing conditions and small businesses and all those things should go uninsured, something is wrong in America. Now with that, the president’s plan--‘Obamacare,’ as it’s been called--is far too reaching. It’s overreaching. It needs to have a lot of it repealed. But you can fix that. If you can’t fix that, repeal the whole thing.
Igor Volsky of Think Progress has tracked Manchin's statements on this issue. (Volsky, I believe, was the one who first got Manchin's campaign to clarify exactly what parts of the law he didn't like.) And, as best as I can tell, Manchin hasn't so much changed his substantive beliefs as he has changed the language he uses to describe them--although, at this point, it's awfully hard to tell what Manchin really believes.
The behavior is no mystery. Manchin is running for Senator Robert Byrd's old Senate seat. And although Manchin is, or was, extremely popular, he's been slipping in the polls. I can't imagine the spectacle of changing positions on such a high profile issue, so late in the game, looks particularly good. Then again, I also think West Virginians should support the Affordable Care Act. Quite obviously, they do not--at least as they currently understand it.
Either way, Manchin's statements shouldn't matter as much as they do. West Virginia has less than 2 million total residents. But come 2011, its new senator will have the exact same influence over national policy as Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein, whose state populations are larger by more than a factor of ten.