Apr 16 2009
By Ken Bonner
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa), despite battling allergies and a cough, spent approximately one and one-half hours visiting with about 50 constituents Saturday at the North Alabama Electric Cooperative in Stevenson during his annual town hall style meeting in Jackson County.
"He has all the citizens of the United States best interests at heart when he makes a decision," Stevenson Mayor Rickey Steele said in introducing Shelby.
Shelby, who has served in the Senate since 1986, joked briefly about his battling Alabama's pollen, then spoke on a variety of topics for about 30 minutes before opening the floor to questions.
"Energy is probably our greatest long-term problem," Shelby said. "We need to drill everywhere we can. We have the technical capability. While it won't solve our energy needs it will help us."
The Senator, who has often been a vocal critic of TVA, said he believes nuclear energy can also help the nation meet its' growing demand and help make the U.S. energy independent for the future.
"We ought to go totally nuclear. We have the most modern and the safest technology the world knows," he said. "We ought to build a classic nuclear power plant here in Jackson County."
Shelby was unapologetic in his disagreements with President Barack Obama's views on some issues.
"I would like to support the administration if I thought they were right," he said. "I'm worried about this administration. It's the most liberal since Jimmy Carter. I'm not going to help them socialize the nation."
Shelby also discussed the federal stimulus and bailout programs, the attack on the U.S. Constitution and the rising federal debt.
"There is no political appetite for tightening our belts in either party. I'm going to vote against any bailouts. I don't believe the federal government should bail out any business. I don't believe anything is too big to fail."
Shelby call the U.S. Constitution, "the most important document we have. It is basically what we are. We should not subordinate to anyone. I'm not interested in a one world nation. I'll fight anybody over our Bill of Rights and our sovereignty."
The Senator, who served as a representative for eight years, before being elected to the U.S. Senate said his job was tough but rewarding.
"I can't please you all the time. I believe in a free market, capitalism and opportunity for everyone to succeed or fail."
He used a pie chart to show how the country's debt has grown over the years and pointed out that in 1914 it stood at $1 billion. Today the country's debt has grown to $12.5 trillion having doubled in the past six months.
"We're the largest debtor nation in the world? Should we be?." Shelby asked. "If you compare the value of our dollar compared to 1914 it's worth a nickel."
Shelby also touched on the recession, the collapse of the banking system, the Federal Reserve, and his stance on immigration.
Shelby, who says he will seek reelection in 2010, is the ranking Republican on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. He is also the ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee and serves as a senior member of the full Appropriations Committee and the Special Committee on Aging.