Feb 05 2010

Shelby talks politics; Banks, flooding topics during visit to Atmore

By Chandler Myers

The economy needs better regulation of banks, said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, who told Escambia County residents that is why he voted against the reconfirmation of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last week.

Shelby, R-Ala., said he is against government bailouts, but for a better system of banking that could create jobs.

“I oppose bailouts of banks and automobile corporations,” said Shelby, who was in Atmore Saturday morning for a visit with constituents at Cutie Pies Bakery. “I don’t think we should be giving money to big corporations. We have too many people out of work right now, the government cannot create that many jobs. What will create jobs is a good banking system and a fair tax system.”

United Bank’s Dale Johnson asked the senator about his recent dissent to confirm Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke. The Senate approved Bernake to a second term, but only on a 70-30 vote, one of the weakest shows of support for achairman in the agency’s 96-year history.

Shelby said he has known Bernanke for a long time, but doesn’t think the chairman does a good job regulating banks.

“I’ve known Bernanke awhile,” he said. “I was chairman of the banking committee for a long time. He’s done a terrible job of regulating banks, and I asked him how he would regulate big banks, and he couldn’t answer. I just thought he should be accountable. We had 30 votes against him. That’s more votes than any Federal Reserve chair has ever received. President Obama said we should tax the banks, and I said that if we tax the banks then they will tax the people.”

Shelby also told residents his office would do what it could to help alleviate the conditions that led to flooding in December.

One resident told Shelby he thought the flooding in Brewton and East Brewton had been worse because of fallen timber.

Shelby said he would speak to the Army Corps of Engineers about the problem.

“We need to get the Army Corps of Engineers to clean that mess up,” he said. “I don’t know how much I can do, but I’ll see what can be done to fix it.”

Shelby, who faces another re-election campaign this year, said he is going to run on what has made him senator.

“I appreciate the vote I received from Escambia County in 2004,” he said. “We are in another election year, and this year I plan to run on my record. People might not always agree with my vote, but I want everyone to know I always do what’s best for my country. One thing I am keeping in mind this year is that the economy is the No. 1 domestic issue that we are facing. I think that 2010 could be a tough year. We are in a worldwide recession. Germany has always had Europe’s best economy, and it has only grown by 1.5 percent in the last year, and that’s not good.”