Conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) distanced himself from President Obama's budget Tuesday, saying it "falls short" in reducing the nation's debt and deficits.
Manchin said it is important for a budget proposal to strike a balance between cutting spending and providing for the poor, but Obama's $3.7 trillion plan did not accomplish that goal. But the West Virginia senator, who is up for reelection in 2012, said that Republican proposals are also flawed.
"What we have is a budget proposal from the president designed to get our attention, but given our fiscal challenges, it does not go far enough," Manchin said in a statement. "This is not what the country needs or expects."
Manchin's statement is another example of how he has staked out a position in political center ahead of his reelection bid in two years.
The former governor won a special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) last year, but could face a tough challenge from a Republican in 2012 in West Virginia, which has tilted red during the last decade. Machin survived a surprising challenge by Tea Party Republican John Raese last year.
A Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling survey released last month showed Manching leading three potential Republican challengers.
Though he criticized Republican plans that "do not honor our commitments to our seniors and hard-working families," The senator suggested that both sides sit down for bipartisan talks to hammer out a budget deal.
“In the coming weeks, a budget must be negotiated by first bringing all parties to the table, where they should focus on an open and honest discussion of the choices we must make as a nation," he said. "To that end, I urge the president and Democratic and Republican leaders to sit down together, put politics aside, and begin to hammer out a true commonsense budget."