Mar 26 2009

Senator voices national concerns

By Melissa Braun
A 23-year veteran in Congress and considered one of the powerful Republicans in the nation’s capital, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby told area residents Saturday he is worried about the direction in which the nation is headed.

Shelby, addressing lunch-goers at Creekside Grill, said with current congressional decisions being made, his only agenda is “to try to bring some sanity back to this country.”

With the current economic hardships facing the country, Shelby said he cannot help but be concerned about the amount of government spending being approved.

He said he was and continues to be opposed to a stimulus package and bailout program that have been rushed through Congress in recent weeks geared at “turning the economy around.”

“I don’t believe we can spend our way and borrow our way to prosperity,” he said. “We are going to reach in probably just a few years with this administration a $15 trillion national debt. It took 200 years to get to the first trillion (1982).”

Shelby said confidence must be restored to the nation’s banking system, but contended that bailing the banks out of their financial difficulties is not a way to do so.

“I don’t believe any bank or institution is too big to close down,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be heartache. It doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be hard. It is harder to keep them open because you keep pumping money into them.”

Shelby said current fiscal policy is a political game, an effort to “create a dependent constituent group.”

“I don’t know where the Obama administration is going except for socialism,” he said.

Currently, Shelby said, overseas countries including China and Great Britain own approximately 25 percent of the nation’s debt.

“What they are doing now is the Federal Reserve is printing money. The Federal Reserve always printed money, but they are printing it too fast right now.
They announced recently they are going to buy, that is just a transfer, $300 billion worth of securities. That is unusual for a lot of reasons,” he explained.

The securities are not being bought in the private market, currently, he said.

“The Chinese are buying some, but the Chinese premier said last week he was worried about the American debt,” said Shelby, adding the premier has a right to be concerned with the U.S. government and unsure if it will be able to pay the debt off since the country currently owes China approximately $2 trillion.

“We don’t save enough money to service our own debt.”

He is concerned about the continued decline of the value of the dollar as a result of current fiscal policy.

The debt in the country continues to increase and Shelby voiced concern the country will reach a point it will no longer have the ability to “service that debt.”

The inability to service the country’s debt will, in turn, undermine the country’s national security, he said.

With the current presidential agenda, Shelby warned the country will soon see the foundation laid for hyperinflation as the government begins playing a bigger role in the private sector than has been seen in years.

“Watch the budget in the next few weeks. They are going to try to borrow more, tax you more and spend more. Most economists believe that is a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Going hand-in-hand with the economy is new legislation that is geared to change the National Labor Relations Law.

The change, Shelby explained, would force organizing unions to have an open vote, or “card check off.”

Currently, the law requires unions to organize by secret ballot.

“(If passed) that would be the biggest exodus from jobs in America you have ever seen,” he said.

It is important, he continued, to maintain union votes by secret ballot.

“I am not going to support that card check bill.
Instead of people not just coming to Alabama to invest, they will be going to China. You will see millions of jobs lost because of that bill,” he said.

Phil Thomas, Enterprise Chamber of Commerce director, voiced appreciation for Shelby’s stance on the new legislation.

“The U.S. Chamber, the Alabama Chamber, the Business Council of Alabama, every business council in the nation adamantly opposes that legislation,” Thomas said. “The business community creates the most jobs. They are going to pull us out of this recession and it is the small businesses that will lead the way doing it. Right now is not the time to put obstacles in front of businesses. All that legislation is going to do is take away an employee’s right to decide if he wants to unionize.”

Shelby agreed the current labor law has worked “pretty well,” comparing it to voting in the local, state and national elections while avoiding coercion.

Another piece of legislation Shelby voiced concern over is the cap in trade.

“That would be the biggest tax you have ever seen,” he said.

The cap and trade legislation would place a limit on the amount of greenhouse gas it can emit and will be required to work under an emissions permit.

The limit is said, in the legislation, to become increasingly more stringent.

In turn, companies that work their emission limit will be able to sell their leftover emission permits to companies that are unable to work under the limit.

Shelby said the bill will cause an increase in power bills, as will a proposed power grid by the Obama administration.

The economic crisis, banking crisis, Shelby warned is far from over.

A restoration of faith is what needed for the nation to overcome, he said.

If necessary, Shelby said there needs to be a willingness to close failing banks.

National leaders, he said, should also offer support to workers and small businesses.

Continuing to follow failing policies will not stimulate change, he said.

“Slow down,” Shelby said is his message for Congress.

“You’ve got to have a strong monetary system. You’ve got to have a nation that’s not in hoc to the world. You’ve got to have a nation that won’t overtax its own people,” he said, adding it will take transparency and accountability.”