Shelby visits, talks economy

Published 4:44 pm Monday, February 18, 2013

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby talked to Chilton County residents Monday at Clanton City Hall.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby talked to Chilton County residents Monday at Clanton City Hall.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby’s visit to Chilton County on Monday focused on the national economy.

Shelby began his talk at Clanton City Hall by outlining his opposition to the country’s ever-increasing debt, which is about $16.5 trillion.

“This affects every man, woman and child in this country–born or unborn,” Shelby said. “I don’t see any end in sight to it.

“Something has got to give in Washington. We have got to rein in spending.”

Shelby is the top Republican senator on the Appropriations Committee. He has served as senator since 1986, and before that served in the House of Representatives beginning in 1979.

Shelby takes regular tours to visit each county in the state.

He spoke Monday to a crowd of about 50 local residents, most of whom also seemed to consider the country’s stagnant economy as its most significant issue.

Eighty percent of Chilton County voters preferred Shelby during his re-election to the Senate in 2010, he said.

Shelby was asked about the role of the Federal Reserve. The senator said the organization should be independent–to a certain degree.

“I voted to audit the Federal Reserve,” he said. “They should be accountable, ultimately, for what they do. I’m not sure that what they’re doing is what’s best for America in the long run.”

Mostly, Shelby touted economically conservative principles like cutting spending and adopting a “flat-rate tax.”

Even when the conversation turned to China (“As they grow strong economically, they’re going to grow strong militarily,” Shelby said. “They’re going to be a threat to us.”), Alabama’s senior senator quickly shifted back to the economy.

“The biggest threat is the economy,” he said. “No nation has lasted very long without a strong economic base.”

Shelby also touched on:

•Immigration. Shelby said he’s not for a “path to citizenship” for people in the country illegally.

•Gun control. While calling recent shootings “horrible,” Shelby said Americans have a constitutional right to own firearms. “But we ought to be responsible with guns,” he said.

•Social Security. Shelby said he favors gradually raising the retirement age to 70.

•Energy. The senator said he favors increased drilling for oil and natural gas, and construction of new nuclear facilities.

•Health care. Shelby said he voted against Obamacare and was “shocked” that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.