Sen. Shelby visits Chilton County

Published 3:26 pm Monday, February 20, 2012

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby discusses the growing national debt during a town hall meeting Saturday in Clanton.

The rising national debt and upcoming presidential election were the main topics of discussion Saturday when U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby visited Clanton. Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) held a lunchtime town hall meeting at 7 Place Café.

The senator said this November’s general election will determine “what kind of country we are going to have now and in the future.”

Shelby said he would support whichever Republican candidate earns his party’s nomination.

“This is a very important election coming up. It affects everything we do,” Shelby said.

Getting the country’s debt under control will be an important part of that process, Shelby said. He cited a figure that said 36 cents of every dollar spent by the federal government is borrowed.

“We should not let a county like ours do this,” Shelby said. “Are we going to get back on the right track or are we going to continue to borrow from the Chinese?”

Shelby said unfunded mandates are bankrupting the country.

“We owe too much; we have borrowed too much; we have saved too little,” Shelby said.

Shelby said the national debt is the No. 1 issue in this country today.

“There has to be a day of reckoning,” he said.

The senator also talked about the proposed Keystone Pipeline that would have transported oil from Canada to various points in the U.S. — a project President Obama postponed until at least 2013 for environmental concerns.

Shelby said the postponement “defies common sense” and that the pipeline would have created 20,000 immediate jobs and supplied the country with hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil.

Shelby also talked about recent sanctions on Iran aimed at curbing the country’s nuclear program.

“We don’t want them to have nuclear weapons,” he said.

But he cautioned against taking immediate military action.

“War costs a lot of money; costs a lot of blood. They are easy to start and hard to finish,” Shelby said.

Questions from the audience focused on spending, energy/Iran and the Department of Education, which Shelby called “a huge bureaucracy.”

He also touched upon immigration, saying he did believe controlling the country’s borders is a job of the federal government — one that hasn’t been done.

“They should do it, but they haven’t,” Shelby said. “We have not immigration policy, do we?”