Senator Shelby talks economy, national debt

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sen. Richard Shelby made his annual visit to Crenshaw County Monday afternoon at the Bethany Center in Brantley. With the nation’s economy in such present turmoil, that was one of the main topics on the minds of the citizens as well as Sen. Shelby.

“We’ve got to have the courage to do what is right,” Shelby said. “You may not have any friends, but you still do what’s right.”

Shelby tried to remain positive about the current economic outlook, even though he made it clear that he did not support President Barack Obama’s stimulus package plan.

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“We have 155 million Americans employed as of last Friday,” he said. “We have leaks in the roof, but the sky is not falling.”

“We’re challenged economically right now, but we’ll come back—we can compete with anybody in the world, but we can be better though. The biggest challenge right now is to get the banking system moving so they are able to give credit to the people who are able to pay it back.”

Shelby said that as far as the crisis on Wall Street, “they got too greedy.”

“We had people who were paying nothing down on homes they couldn’t afford, and that bubble burst,” he said. “The banks brought that on themselves.”

Shelby even opposed former President Bush’s $350 million bailout plan.

“It didn’t work,” Shelby said. “Where did that money go? It’s now a debt on our children.”

The Republican Senator said that smaller banks were in an okay position because “they didn’t get too greedy.”

Shelby felt the same way about larger companies, including the Big Four automakers.

“I don’t think government should choose which companies make it and which don’t,” he said. “I’d like to see the four car dealerships make it, but I can’t do it for them.”

Shelby pointed out that it took the United States nearly 200 years to owe a one trillion dollar debt, but very soon, that debt would quickly hit over $12 trillion.

“If you think Pres. Obama’s stimulus package will boost the economy, you’re fooling yourself,” he said, noting that Representative Artur Davis was the only congressman from Alabama to vote for it.

“We can’t borrow ourselves into prosperity—it won’t last,” he said. “We can’t borrow our way out of a recession. We didn’t end the Great Depression until the beginning of World War II when so many jobs were created.”

He pointed out that last year’s total U.S. debt was $10.65 trillion, with $2.86 trillion of that being foreign-owned debt. Of that foreign-owned debt, 20.5 percent belonged to China, and 20 percent to Japan.

“We’re headed down the road to financial destruction,” he said. “We’re becoming a debtor nation, which means we are stealing from our children and our grandchildren….our parents were more disciplined than we are.”

Shelby said the nation would have to absorb a lot of the housing losses, which would ultimately cost the taxpayers money; also, the government needed to create conditions in order to put back the people’s confidence into the nation’s banking system.

“Straightening out our economy is more important than the stimulus package plan, I believe,” he said.

When the question was asked concerning Social Security, Shelby said it should be available for those who are drawing it now and for those who are soon to receive it.

“As for you young people? I can’t stand here and tell you it’ll be there because it doesn’t work out mathematically,” Shelby said.

The government already spends 21.5 cents out of every tax dollar now for Social Security, according to the 2008 figures.

“There are some people who believe the government should take care of all their needs, from ‘the cradle to the grave,’ but I don’t agree—that’s Socialism or even Communism,” he said. “But I do believe the government should provide a safety net for the people.”