MANCHIN’S CONFUSION…. I can appreciate the fact that Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia represents a conservative state. He won a special election late last year, but he’ll be on the ballot again in 2012, and support for the Democratic president in this state will likely be pretty low.

But that’s really not much of an excuse for silly grandstanding like this.

Saying that “we must get our fiscal house in order,” Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he’ll vote against raising the nation’s debt ceiling unless it’s married to a plan that addresses the nation’s broader fiscal problems. […]

“In the coming weeks, we will face many difficult budget decisions. I know it will not be easy. I know that it will take compromise. I know it will be partisan and difficult. I know that everyone will have to give up something and no one will want to relinquish anything. But we cannot ignore the fiscal Titanic of our national debt and deficit,” Manchin will say.

According to the released text of the speech he’ll deliver later today, Manchin will vow to “vote against raising the debt ceiling unless the vote is linked to a real budget plan that begins to fix our fiscal mess.”

It’s seems likely Manchin has no idea what he’s talking about. There’s no exact date just yet, but by some estimates, the federal government will reach its debt limit in less than a month. During that time, policymakers hope to strike some kind of compromise on a budget that will fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. Almost immediately once that gets done — if it gets done — those same policymakers will have to agree to extend the debt limit, or face potentially catastrophic economic consequences.

Manchin believes he should deliberately create a global economic catastrophe, unless, over the course of a few weeks, some remarkable plan somehow comes together.

In other words, the center-right Democrat wants to hold the full faith and credit of the United States government hostage until his vague concerns about a “fiscal mess” are addressed to his satisfaction.

Keep in mind, Manchin isn’t making any specific recommendations about what he’d like to see in this budget plan, only that he’d like others to do the work that makes him happy. If not, he apparently has his infamous rifle pointed not only at cap-and-trade, but also at our entire economy.

Update: Of course, it’s also worth noting that massive spending cuts, along the lines that would apparently make Manchin happy, wouldn’t do any favors for his constituents. West Virginia is a fairly low-income state, and would be harder hit than most by the kind of reductions Manchin seems to want.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.