By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R) from Alabama delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate critical of President Barack H. Obama’s economic policies. Thursday’s speech followed a scathing speech by President Obama on Wednesday where the President attacked congressional Republicans and called on Congress to help him implement his economic policies. Shelby said that Obama’s economic policies have not worked and are directly responsible for the poor rate of job growth and dropping household income.
Sen Shelby said, “We have a jobs crisis in America. High unemployment and weak economic growth have festered for nearly five years. American families are increasingly dependent upon government, and businesses are being suffocated by it.”
Sen. Shelby continued, ”We need a fresh, free market approach to job creation. Stale Obama policy leftovers won’t cut it.” “The official unemployment rate in the U.S. is 7.6 percent. That makes 54 straight months of unemployment above 7.5 percent. However, as grim as those figures are, they do not tell the full story. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the “real” unemployment rate, known as U-6, is 14.3 percent. This includes those who are unemployed, those who want to work but have stopped searching for a job, and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time work. 22.6 million Americans fall under this category. The real unemployment rate was 14.2 percent when President Obama took office in January of 2009. It peaked at 17.1 percent in late 2009 and early 2010, but has not fallen below 13.8 percent during his time in office.It has been a jobless presidency.”
Sen. Shelby said that the combination of lack of sufficient full time employment and sluggish economic growth (just 0.8 percent over President Obama’s first term.) has led to climbing government dependency. Shelby said that under President Obama, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased by 47% and 8.9 million Americans collect disability pay, and that number is increasing by 70,000 a month.
Sen. Shelby said, “No one denies that President Obama was dealt a tough hand coming into office. But the question is, What did he do about it? President Obama’s first act in office was to ram a $787 billion stimulus package through Congress. He promised the American people that it would keep the unemployment rate from rising above eight percent. Instead, the unemployment rate hit ten percent in October of 2009 and remained above eight percent for the next 43 consecutive months” Shelby said that led to a $1.413 trillion deficit in 2009, a $1.294 trillion deficit in 2010, other $1.3 trillion deficit in 2011, $1.087 trillion more in 2012 and, “Although the 2013 deficit is projected to dip below $1 trillion, it will still be $183 billion higher than any pre-Obama deficit. Looking at the big picture, the national public debt now stands at just under $17 trillion, an increase of nearly 60 percent under President Obama.”
Shelby said, “Taxpayers got more debt, but job seekers didn’t get work.” Shelby said that Social Security and Medicare account for 38% of federal spending and is climbing at such a rate that over the next 25 years, CBO is projecting that their share of GDP will increase by 40%. Medicare is expected to run out of money in 13 years and Social Security will go broke by 2033, but Obama has done nothing to deal with this impending crisis.
Sen. Shelby said that President Obama’s spending binges have precipitated multiple budget showdowns, but instead of using the crises to present spending and entitlement reform, “President Obama used the power of his office to campaign pre- and post-election for one thing: tax hikes.” Shelby said that tax hikes do not create jobs or generate growth, instead tax hikes kill jobs and simply allows President Obama to spend more.
Sen. Shelby said that overregulation further deteriorates the conditions necessary for job creation and economic growth. “A study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates that “total costs for Americans to comply with federal regulations reached $1.806 trillion in 2012.” This translates to nearly $15,000 annually per family – or 23 percent of average household income.” Shelby aid that this year alone the federal government has published regulations which will result in $61.7 billion in compliance costs, and 80.5 million hours of paperwork burden.
Shelby said, “Despite the failure of the stimulus package, President Obama put the unemployed on hold for more than a year while he forced government-run health care through Congress.” Shelby said that Obama promised that Obamacare would reduce health insurance premiums by $2,500, instead, premiums have already increased by that amount and premiums could double or even triple for healthy consumers under ObamaCare. Shelby said that ObamaCare is 2,400 pages long and creates 159 new boards, commissions, and government offices and will cost an estimated $1.88 trillion over the next ten years while creating or raising 21 taxes totaling $1.1 trillion. Sen. Shelby said that Obamacare has had a large role in businesses failing to hire more Americans. “I welcome recent news that the Obama administration will temporarily delay the employer mandate. But in light of the evidence that ObamaCare is increasing health insurance costs and making it harder for the unemployed to find jobs, we should delay the whole law permanently for everyone.”
Sen Shelby said, “Congress should start over and craft legislation that will actually lower health care costs and preserve high quality care without crushing businesses with unnecessary regulations.”
Sen. Shelby said that President Obama forced the Dodd-Frank Act through Congress. Shelby said, “The law totals more than 2,300 pages and calls for nearly 400 new rules. A study by scholars at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University estimates that Dodd-Frank had already generated 2,109 restrictions in the Code of Federal Regulations by the end of 2011. At this rate, they project a 26 percent increase in restrictions in relevant sections of the Code once all Dodd-Frank rulemakings are finalized. M. President, Dodd-Frank will create jobs only for regulatory compliance officers.”
Sen. Shelby said, “I am the only current member of the Senate who voted against both financial deregulation in 1999 and the Wall Street bailout in 2008. I subscribe to the view that regulation should protect taxpayers without harming job creators.”
Sen. Shelby said that President Obama’s “war on coal” will kill jobs. “An analysis by the Heritage Foundation estimates that drastically reducing the percentage of coal in our nation’s energy portfolio would, by 2030, kill more than 500,000 jobs and increase electricity prices 20 percent. In stark contrast, a Wood Mackenzie study estimates that “1.4 million American jobs could be created by 2030 if the government adopted policies encouraging U.S. energy exploration and production.”
Sen. Shelby said, “In light of the existing and increasing regulatory burden, it is not surprising that the Federal Reserve estimates that manufacturers, domestic producers, and other non-financial American companies are sitting on a record $1.78 trillion stockpile of cash. If we are to create the conditions for real job creation in this country, we must start by streamlining the regulatory burden on the economy.”
Sen. Shelby also warned that the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy under, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke adds considerable risk to the economy. “The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet quantifies just how big of a risk Chairman Bernanke feels he must take with so-called monetary stimulus. It currently stands at $3.5 trillion, and continues to grow by $85 billion a month under the Fed’s “quantitative easing” program. Among the assets included in the Fed’s balance sheet are $2 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities and $1.2 trillion in federal agency mortgage-backed securities.”
Sen. Shelby said, “To put the acceleration of the Fed’s balance sheet into perspective, it took 95 years from the Fed’s creation in 1913 to reach $1 trillion. The Fed then added the second trillion in just six weeks, followed by the third trillion this past January. Under the current quantitative easing program, the Fed’s balance sheet will reach four trillion dollars in less than six months. Where does it end? Five trillion? Six trillion? Ten trillion? As with fiscal policy, Mr. President, we are in uncharted monetary policy waters. The Fed’s unprecedented measures carry substantial risk and uncertainty.”
Sen. Shelby concluded, “Mr. President, we face a serious confluence of economic challenges. President Obama’s policies have not worked. And they will not create work. M. President, real job creation is the result of entrepreneurship and innovation and risk in the free market. I believe that government’s role is to establish the conditions for that to occur. We can do this by stabilizing our nation’s finances, simplifying our tax code, and streamlining our regulatory framework. The more President Obama clings to the tired liberal ideology that more government is always the answer, the longer this jobs crisis will persist.”
Sen. Shelby has represented the people of Alabama in the House and the Senate since the Jimmy Carter Presidency.
Coalition of attorneys general file opposition to Alabama attempt to ban curbside voting
The AGs argue that Alabama’s suggestion to the courts that curbside voting invites fraud is “unfounded.”
A coalition of 17 state attorneys general have filed an opposition to Alabama’s attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to ban curbside voting.
In a friend-of-the-court brief, led by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, the attorneys general argue to that curbside voting is safer for those at greatest risk from COVID-19, and that a ban on the practice would disproportionately impact the elderly, the disabled and Black Alabamians.
They also argue that Alabama’s suggestion to the courts that curbside voting invites fraud is “unfounded.”
“The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, established by President Trump following the 2016 election, ‘uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud,’” the brief states, adding that there is no evidence that curbside voting in the many states that allow it invites fraud.
“The practice is longstanding and widespread—as noted, more than half of states have historically offered curbside voting in some form,” the brief continues.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Oct. 13 said the state will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a federal appeals court ruling allowing curbside voting in the Nov. 3 election.
A panel of federal appeals court judges on Oct. 13 reversed parts of U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon’s Sept. 30 ordered ruling regarding absentee voting in the upcoming Nov. 3 elections, but the judges let the previous ruling allowing curbside voting to stand.
The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, was brought on behalf of several Alabamians with underlying medical conditions.
“Curbside voting is a longstanding, secure voting option that local jurisdictions have made available to protect the health of vulnerable voters, including elderly, disabled, and voters with underlying health issues,” Racine said in a statement. “Curbside voting minimizes the risk to persons who are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, and local jurisdictions should be able to offer this common-sense accommodation to voters. State Attorneys General will keep fighting to ensure that voters can safely make their voices heard at the ballot box this November.”
The brief filed by the coalition of state attorneys general comes as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Alabama has been ticking upward.
Racine is joined in the brief by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
Alabama revenues grew despite COVID pandemic, analysis shows
Tax revenue into the state’s General Fund was 7 percent higher this year the Education Trust Fund brought in an additional $209 million in 2020 compared to 2019.
Alabama’s strong economy going into the COVID-19 pandemic, and billions in federal aid to address the health and economic crisis, has helped the state’s two largest budget funds to grow this year, according to a study released Thursday.
According to an analysis by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, tax revenue into the state’s General Fund was 7 percent higher this year than it was in 2019, and Alabama’s Education Trust Fund brought in an additional $209 million in 2020 compared to 2019.
“According to Finance Department officials, Alabama ended 2020 with $330 million balance in the ETF and a $315 million balance in the General Fund,” wrote PARCA’s Tom Spencer in the report. “That was result both of revenues that exceeded the budgeted amounts and expenditures that were lower than what was appropriated.”
The growth came despite the spike in unemployment that began in March and hasn’t yet abated, and despite mandatory business closures in March and April and the restrictions still in place to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.
The author of the report said the growth is due in part to the state’s strong economy before the pandemic hit. Unemployment was at a historic low between October and March, and prior to the pandemic, income tax receipts were up approximately 7 percent over the same period in 2019.
Additionally, $4.1 billion in federal COVID-19 aid has been committed to individuals and municipalities in Alabama, and consumer spending shifted but didn’t stop, the author notes.
The federal Paycheck Protection Program preserved payrolls, and unemployed workers received $600 per week in a supplement to unemployment insurance, which both helped prevent the state’s tax revenue from taking a bigger hit.
“Sales taxes dropped, then recovered and have been up and down in the months since. At the same time though, tax on internet purchases surged, offsetting the erosion in sales tax. Unlike some other states, Alabama’s sales taxes apply to groceries and medicine and thus it tends to be more stable,” Spencer wrote in the report.
Several sectors of Alabama’s economy have done well during the pandemic, including the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board, which contributed an additional $17 million to the General Fund, an increase of 14 percent.
But still other sectors suffered, including lodging tax. The tax on hotels and vacation rentals was down 15 percent for the year, and collected almost $9 million less for the General Fund.
“For the current fiscal year, FY 2021, Finance officials are relatively confident that revenues will more than cover the budgets. Lawmaker scaled back spending plans in light of the pandemic,” Spencer wrote in the report. “As long as there aren’t additional unforeseen shocks to the economic system, the Alabama economy should generate the revenue needed to make the budgets as adopted this spring.”
If the state’s economy were to take a larger hit, Spencer noted, the state still has rainy day funds for both funds.
RESERVE FUND BALANCES
- ETF Budget Stabilization Fund – $373,269,077
- ETF Rainy Day Account – $465,421,670
- GF Budget Stabilization Fund – $27,297,483
- GF Budget Rainy Day Account – $232,939,781
Opinion | Electing Tuberville could cost Alabama billions
If your conscience or decency isn’t enough, vote your wallets.
Money matters in Alabama. Oh, I know that we’re not supposed to say that out loud. That we’re supposed to promote our image of southern grace and hospitality, of churchiness and care, of rich people never getting into heaven.
But the truth is greed is our biggest character flaw in this state.
Every problem we have can be traced back to our unending thirst for dollars. Our ancestors didn’t keep slaves because they hated black people. They did it because they loved money and the difference in skin color gave them an excuse — a really, really stupid excuse — to mistreat other humans to take advantage of the free labor.
Our rivers and lakes and dirt aren’t filled with poisons from factories because we’re too dumb to understand how this works. They’re that way because our politicians are paid off to turn a blind eye to the dumping of toxic waste.
Our schools aren’t terrible because we have dumb kids or bad teachers. It’s because we’re too cheap to pay for them.
You see what I mean? It’s our lust for the almighty dollar. Every time.
We love money.
Which makes me seriously wonder why so many people in this state are going to vote for a man who will cost us all — and especially our biggest businesses — so much of it.
Tommy Tuberville will be like a money vacuum for Alabama. Billions of dollars will vanish for this welfare state that relies so much on federal contracts, federal programs and federal dollars.
If you doubt this, don’t simply take my word for it. Just Google up the press releases from Sen. Richard Shelby’s office from the last, say, six years — the most recent span in which Republicans have controlled the Senate.
Almost every single release is about Shelby securing millions or billions of dollars in federal funding for this project or that project, getting the state’s share of dollars from a variety of different programs and initiatives implemented by Congress.
Shelby and I obviously have different political viewpoints, but it’s hard to argue that the man has been successful in securing money for Alabama. Lots and lots of money.
Money for airports and roads. Money for defense contractors in Huntsville. Money for the port in Mobile. Money for car manufacturers. Money for farmers.
Money. Money. Money.
Shelby can do that because of three things: He’s on the right committees, he’s a member of the party in power and he’s liked by the right people.
Tuberville will be none of those things.
Most pundits are predicting that Democrats will take over the Senate, tipping the balance of power and giving the party control of both houses and the White House.
That automatically means that a first-time senator in the opposition party will have little to no say in any decisions.
But what’s worse for Tuberville, and for Alabama, is that other Republicans don’t like him either.
Establishment Republicans essentially openly campaigned against Tuberville in the primary, tossing tens of millions of dollars behind his opponent, Jeff Sessions. They even favored third-place finisher Bradley Byrne over Tuberville.
It’s not hard to understand why — he’s clueless.
I know that’s a Doug Jones talking point, but this one happens to be true. Let me give you an example: On Thursday, Tuberville tweeted out what was meant to be a shot at Jones, claiming that Alabama’s current senator wouldn’t meet with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee because Jones knows “he won’t have much time in the Senate to work with her.”
If you’re unaware, the Senate doesn’t “work with” the Supreme Court. They’re separate entities.
Combine that with his other nonsensical answers on COVID relief, school reopenings, the Voting Rights Act, senate committee assignments, education, foreign affairs — really, the list is almost endless — and it shows how little work he’s put in over the last two years to understand this job he’s applying for.
Now, that might be just fine with Alabama voters who care more about the party affiliation and owning the libs, but it’s not OK with grownups who take the job of running the country seriously.
And those people — both Rs and Ds — don’t like Tuberville or his here-for-an-easy-check-like-always approach to one of the most serious jobs in the world.
He will be frozen out of the most sought after committee assignments. His voice will carry zero weight. His presence will be all but forgotten.
And in the process, so will Alabama. Especially in two years, when Shelby retires and his senior status is lost.
In the meantime, Jones is highly respected by senators on both sides of the aisle. He already has a presence on top committees, and is so well liked within the Democratic Party that he’s on the short list to be Joe Biden’s AG, should he not be re-elected.
The choice seems pretty simple. On the one hand is a competent, prepared and serious statesman who knows how to maneuver his colleagues to get the most for the state. On the other hand is an unprepared, uncaring, lazy carpetbagger who doesn’t understand any process.
If your conscience or decency isn’t enough, vote your wallets.
At least 248 COVID deaths reported in Alabama in October
The cumulative death toll in Alabama has risen by 248 to 2,788 in October and by 124 in the last week alone.
We’re a little more than halfway through the month of October and the Alabama Department of Public Health has already reported at least 248 deaths from COVID-19.
The cumulative death toll in Alabama has risen by 248 to 2,788 in October and by 124 in the last week alone.
At least 378 deaths were reported in the month of September, a rate of 12.6 deaths per day over the month. In the first 17 days of October, the rate has been 14.6 deaths per day, a 15.9 percent increase from September.
Deaths were higher in July and August. The cumulative death toll increased by 582 in August and 630 in July, the worst month of the pandemic for the state.
On Saturday, ADPH reported that 1,288 more people in the state were confirmed positive with the coronavirus, and on Sunday the count increased by 964. The number of confirmed cases in Alabama has risen to 172,626.
There have been 17,925 new cases Alabama in October alone. The state is averaging almost 996 cases per day in October, which is up from September.
The state had 28,643 new coronavirus cases in September, 38,335 cases new cases in August, and 49,678 cases in July. Public health officials credit Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s statewide mask order on July 15 with slowing the spread of the virus in the state, but the virus has not gone away.
ADPH reported 823 hospitalizations for COVID-19 on October 17, the most recent day for which we have data. While hospitalizations for COVID-19 are down from the peaks in early August in Alabama have risen from Oct. 1 when 748 Alabamians were hospitalized, a 10 percent increase from the first of the month.
The state of Alabama is continuing to struggle to protect its most vulnerable citizens. At least 6,497 residents of long term care facilities in Alabama have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, 247 of them in October.
There have also been 3,362 cases among long term care workers in Alabama, including 197 in the month of October. Some 9,819 Alabama health care workers have also contracted the coronavirus.
Most people who test positive for the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, are asymptomatic or have only minor symptoms, but in about one out of five cases it can become much more severe.
For older people or people with underlying medical conditions like obesity, heart disease, asthma, cancer, diabetes or HIV, COVID-19 can turn deadly. COVID-19 is the abbreviated name for the medical condition caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Some 1,115,600 people worldwide have died from COVID-19 worldwide, including 224,284 Americans. There are 8,972,704 known active cases in the world today.
Public health officials warn citizens that coronavirus remains a present danger in our community. Social distancing is the best way to avoid spreading the virus. Avoid venues with large groups. Don’t shake hands or hug persons not living in your household.
Avoid leaving your home as much as possible and wear a mask or cloth face covering when you do go out. Avoid touching your face and wash your hands with soap frequently. Hand sanitizer is recommended.
A coronavirus vaccine may be available in the coming months, but we don’t yet know when or how effective it will be.