Shelby discusses U.S. economy

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 16, 2002

In his Monday county meeting, Senator Richard Shelby told residents of Butler County that the United States economy will not remain in a recession, but that the fundamentals are pointing toward recovery.

"We have the greatest economy in the world

the biggest. The Japanese have the second largest and the Germans have the third. We can do a lot of things if we do them slowly," said Shelby

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"With the recession, we are not collecting as many taxes on a local, state or federal level.

When more people are working, they pay more taxes. When corporations are making more money, they pay more taxes. But, there is a shortfall right now," said Shelby.

"I believe the fundamentals of our economy are pretty good, but we live in a market economy where there is supply and demand. There is a lot of supply in a lot of places, like telecommunications, but we have to catch it up in all areas."

Shelby said that he believes the economic indicators are pointing toward recovery, but said he could not guess as to whether it would be a short recovery or whether it would be a long, gradual process. However, the senator said that the fundamentals are there.

"If the economy recovers in Japan and in Germany and the rest of Europe recovers, then that will help. All of that affects us because they buy and sell and we buy and sell. I hope that by the end of June, which will be the end of the second quarter, we will see a lot of positive signs in our economy. This is not a bad recession, and we've seen worse," said Shelby.

On a positive note, Shelby said the interest rates have declined and this has allowed many Americans to refinance homes and businesses, allowing many to pay less. However, Shelby said the economy is fueled by consumer spending and we have to get that back. The economy that we are working with is a $10 trillion economy when all phases of it are combined.

Shelby also added that two stimulus packages recently have come to the forefront in legislation and he voted against both of them because he thought that money could best be spent by balancing the budget, which in turn would help the economy tremendously. Stimulus packages, he said, often will not help the economy, but will make recovery more difficult. Locally, Shelby said that he will do everything he can to help Butler County and the economy here.

Probate Judge MacDonald Russell said that one of the concerns locally is competing against Montgomery for retail sales. "Every time we get a restaurant or movie theater, it keeps

more people from going to Montgomery and keeps the tax dollars here. However, one battle we are fighting is mail order and Internet. I love the Internet because it has made Greenville, Alabama more of a metropolis. But, how can we level the playing field so that more stores who are employing our population can compete?"

"We've got to bring an end to giving Internet companies the advantages over our local, retail companies, and I will vote that way," said Shelby. "I don't represent those folks, I represent you."

One resident asked Shelby about the Farm Bill, and said that he is concerned about what farmers may face this year in legislation.

"We're very close to passing the farm bill, and there are differentials between the House and the Senate. But the order of business this week is the farm bill. I believe we may have been able to pass the Farm Bill in December, but Senator Thomas Daschle (D-SD) put the Farm Bill ahead of the Defense Appropriation Bill, and a lot of us weren't going to do that.

"We know the Farm Bill is important, but it was near the end of the session, and we were not going to put it in front of the Defense Appropriation Bill. Sen. Jeff Sessions and I are ready to bring the Farm Bill up now. The bill has some things in it that I don't like,but it has a lot of good things. It does have predictability. I would like to pass that bill out of the Senate this week, and let it go to a conference soon with the House so that farmers all over America know what the future is."