By Alexander Bolton - 07/21/12 06:51 PM EDT
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) says he supports Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s re-election because he believes Manchin is not beholden to short-sighted political interests.
Coburn recently gave $250 to Manchin’s re-election campaign.
“I think he votes thinking about the long-term interests of the country. We don’t agree on everything but he’s a good guy,” Coburn told The Hill.
Manchin, who was elected with 53 percent of the vote, is expected to soundly defeat Republican challenger John Raese.
Coburn’s support is an indication that Manchin could sign on to a comprehensive deficit-reduction package at the end of this year or in 2013
Coburn has been at the center of bipartisan talks with Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kent. Conrad (D-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) over a package to cut spending and raise taxes.
Manchin has said he wants to pass a major deficit-slashing bill at the end of the year, avoiding questions about whether he would vote to extend all of the Bush tax cuts or only those for families earning below $250,000.
“I’m totally for the Bowles-Simpson [plan] and will continue to work for Bowles-Simpson,” he told The Hill last month. “We need to revamp the system and I think Bowles-Simpson is the pragmatic way to do it.”
Manchin indicated to reporters this past week, however, that he may be warming up to the idea of voting for a Senate Democratic plan to extend the Bush tax cuts only for households earning below $250,000.
“I’m looking at all the options,” he said. “You’ve got two options: kick the can down the road further than it’s been kicked — I don’t think that’s a good option — the other one is to try to fix part of it.
“I’m getting more inclined,” he said.
Groups that have lobbied Democratic senators on the Bush tax rates say Sens. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are the two members of the Democratic caucus likely to oppose the latest Democratic proposal on income tax rates. A lobbyist for one interest group said he is hopeful the rest of the Democratic caucus will support President Obama’s plan.
Manchin said last week he still supports using the Bowles-Simpson blueprint as a template for deficit cutting.
Manchin has declined to say whether he will vote for Obama in the general election.