By LARRY GIERER
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby told those gathered at a Phenix City town hall meeting Monday morning the United States has the best health care system in the world and he doesn’t see any reason for the kind of changes President Barack Obama and Democrats have proposed that include government control.
“It’s not perfect. It’s expensive,” the Republican from Alabama said about health care. “But you don’t have to turn everything upside down. It’s like a having a beautiful house. It’s not perfect so you make some additions. You don’t burn it down, tear it down and start all over.”
Shelby, who is running for his fifth term, said his No. 1 concern right now is the nation’s budget deficit.
He said the national debt is $14 trillion now and he expects it to grow to $20 trillion in a few years — a debt, he told those gathered, which will negatively affect their grandchildren.
“I’m afraid countries will begin doubting the credit worthiness of this country,” said Shelby. “Nobody will buy our bonds for fear they won’t get their money back. You can’t borrow your way to prosperity.”
He talked about a recession that is in Europe and Japan as well as here. He said the U.S. needs to get the economy moving forward and people back to work.
He said bailouts for banks and other companies aren’t the answer and he has consistently voted that way in Washington.
“You get knocked down, you start over. No company is too big to let fail,” he said, adding he expects more big banks to fail in 2010.
Of stimulus deals, he said, “They will provide a few jobs but at too great a cost.”
While he blamed “greedy bankers” for much of the current financial difficulties, Shelby said, there’s plenty of blame to go around.
“As a country, we borrow too much, spend too much and save too little,” he said.
He was asked about the expansion of Fort Benning, due to Base Realignment and Closure, which is expected to bring more than 20,000 people to the area, and if Columbus and Phenix City would get any federal help for city infrastructure needs and school district needs. His reply was positive, but not encouraging about aid.
Shelby called BRAC a “godsend” for this area. “There will be some growing pains, but it will be worth it,” he said. Shelby said the federal government would not be spending money for school buildings and infrastructure. “We can’t do everything,” he said.
Shelby said some help might be available through government agencies such as U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.