Feb 19 2010

Shelby discusses U.S. debt in annual county visit

William White

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby says the nation can not borrow its way to prosperity.

“I believe that our biggest challenge in the world is economic and that is the debt of this nation,” said Shelby, R-Ala., who hosted Lee County residents during his annual county visit Monday at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center in Auburn.
Shelby, who serves on the banking committee, said he voted against increasing the nation’s debt.

“You can’t borrow your way to prosperity. There has got to be a rhyme or reason behind it,” he said. “You have got to figure out how to pay that money back.

“As long as we are printing money, and that is what we are doing right now, we are going to be deeply challenged.

“Fourteen trillion dollars in debt,” he said.

He said it took the nation 200 years to become a debtor of one trillion dollars and that was in 1982.

“Debt is not always a good thing,” he said. “Senseless debt is a bad, bad thing.”

He said the debt is our big challenge.

After his remarks, the senator opened the floor to questions and comments from those attending.

Ernestine Appleyard of Auburn shared her concerns about Social Security and terrorists.

Shelby said anyone who is drawing Social Security now is OK.

“The Democrats and Republicans are not going to touch it,” the senator said. “It has been a good program for a long time.

“But as long as you had 25 paying in and only one paid out, that was fine,” he said. “But it was never run like a trust or pension fund. Never will be, but should have been.

“For the last 30 years, we have ignored the fact that Americans are living a lot longer.”

Looking across the crowd including university students, Shelby told them not to count on Social Security.

“If you are young, don’t count on it because the numbers don’t work,” he said. “If you are drawing Social Security now, you are fine.”

His response to terrorism is that it is with us and it isn’t
going away.

“People are going to challenge us,” said Shelby, who also chairs the intelligence committee.

He said we were lucky Christmas Day when accused terrorists tried to land that plane in Detroit.

“We had all kinds of warnings. It was a failure of intelligence.
“It wasn’t a failure to collect intelligence,” he said. “It was a failure to share intelligence.”

Shelby said, while the British had denied the alleged bomber a visa and the boy’s father had gone to the embassy and told them his son had gone radical, the U.S. didn’t act on any of that information.

He said we were lucky that the passengers on that plane acted when they did.
“We might not always be so lucky,” the senator said.