by DAVID ATCHISON
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby said the number one challenge facing Americans today is the country’s debt.
“We have spent too much, borrowed too much, and saved too little,” Shelby said to about 100 people at a town hall meeting held at the City Hall in Pell City Thursday morning.
His stop in Pell City was one of five planned town hall meetings scheduled Thursday by Shelby’s office. The U.S. Senator also made his way to Anniston, Trussville, Ashland and Childersburg on Thursday and was expected to visit a total of 37 Alabama counties before the end of the week.
Shelby said the country is now depended upon foreign counties to finance the country’s debt.
He said government spending is out of control and lawmakers need to curtail wasteful spending. Shelby said he voted against bailouts for banks and automobile industries and voted for tax credits for first time home buyers.
“We’re probably going to loose 200-300 banks this year,” Shelby said, adding that the public should not subsidize companies that are going broke.
“We have to let companies that are broke fail,” he said.
More than half the people in the audience were St. Clair County residents who also work for Alabama Aircraft industries, Inc., of Birmingham.
Deborah Smith, a spokesperson for the group, said the company refurbishes KC-135 tanker aircrafts, along with C-130 aircrafts.
She said the small company employs about 800 people, and workers are concerned about the health of their company with federal C-130 aircraft contracts going elsewhere.
Shelby, who serves on the defense appropriation committee, said all he could do was provide funding and it was up to the Pentagon to make decisions as to where the money is spent.
“I can’t tell the Pentagon that they have to fund you,” he said. “…Unless there is something wrong with the bidding process.”
Shelby said he advocates transparency of the bidding process for all federal contracts.
“It should be transparent, open and fair,” Shelby said, adding that the bidding process should not be open to only big companies, but to all companies, including smaller companies like Alabama Aircraft Industries, Inc. of Birmingham.
Shelby also voiced opposition to the proposed healthcare bill
“We, in my opinion, have the best healthcare in the world,” Shelby said. “It’s not perfect…Does it cost too much? Yes.
“The democrats are determined to turn our healthcare upside down and let our government run it,” he said. “I hope the healthcare bill is dead, but it’s not buried yet. Be alert and be aware.”
Shelby, who is running for his U.S. Senate seat in November, said he opposes any gun control legislation.
“I’m never going to vote for any gun control,” he said Thursday.
Shelby has served in the U.S. Senate since 1986.
He is the ranking member of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. In addition, Shelby is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and the Special Committee on Aging.