Mar 10 2009

Shelby brings Congress talk to DeKalb

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

By Jared Felkins

About three weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby was one of the loudest opponents of a $787 billion economic stimulus package signed into law by President Barack Obama.

But on Saturday, Shelby told about 30 supporters gathered at Camp Skyline in Mentone he was going after every dollar he can for Alabama.

“I was strongly opposed to it,” Shelby said. “Now that it’s law, we’re going to get what we can.”

About $3 billion of the stimulus money is headed to Alabama over the next two years for things, such as schools, roads and Medicaid. The state ranks ––––– among states in total fund allocation. It’s something that Shelby said had nothing to do with the fact that all but one of Alabama’s congressmen voted against the stimulus.

“I want [Obama] to do well not necessarily on his agenda,” Shelby said. “But I want our country to do well.

“I don’t think it will change. I thought [the stimulus] was a bad thing.”

Shelby said one main reason why he didn’t support the stimulus was because of the many “abuses in earmarking” Democrats and some Republicans included in the plan.

Shelby said he supports the current appropriations bill making its way through Congress. In it, the bill spells out what projects it will fund over the coming year, and Shelby said he has earmarks in it for a planned new FBI training center in Huntsville, as well as research funding for several state universities, among other projects.

“I’m proud of every one of those earmarks, and I will defend them,” Shelby said.

Shelby gave his stance on the current economic climate. He said the situations of some of the biggest banks in America are shocking, but many have been brought on by themselves due to bad lending practices.

In response to an automotive bailout passed in late 2008, Shelby said he thought some automakers should consider filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy or close their doors.

Shelby pointed to the automotive industry in Alabama over the past two decades as success stories.

“It’s a risk to your taxpayer money and a risk to our grandchildren,” Shelby said. “They asked me if I was trying to build another Detroit in Alabama. I told them that we don’t need another Detroit in Alabama.”

Shelby was also outspoken about the current health care reform package currently being prepared by Obama and members of Congress.

“They want to socialize medicine,” Shelby said. “I fear if we have the government involved, we’re going to have mediocre health care, not good health care.”

Shelby also spoke in favor of a national flat tax or a national sales tax to replace income taxes paid.

“Tax us once, don’t tax us always,” Shelby said. “I believe everybody ought to pay some tax,”

DeKalb District Attorney Mike O’Dell thanked Shelby for his work to support funding for the state forensics labs and the Byrne Grant, which funds drug task forces across the nation.