By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Saturday, February 14, US Senator Richard Shelby (R) spoke to the Pell City Chamber of Commerce about a number of topics including the need for balanced budget amendment.
Sen. Shelby said that the debt is the biggest challenge that this country faces:
“This is a great nation if we don’t destroy it….Debt can destroy it….I always thought that it was a flaw in our Constitution that it is not required that Congress not spend more than it takes in.”
If we had a balanced budget the economy would be booming. We created entitlements and keep on spending, keep on borrowing. The US debt in 1980 was just $900 billion. 1980 Seems like yesterday to me, but I know a lot of you were not even born yet in 1980. That was $900 billion after World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Great Society.
Alabama’s senior US Senator said, now in 2015, the U.S. debt is $18 trillion. “I worry about it every night.” The Federal Reserve is printing money. Nobody wants to talk about because it is not pleasant. We are slated to go to $26 trillion. That is scary.
Sen. Shelby said, “We have lived a pretty good life.” I hope that our children are able to.
How are we going to pay off that debt? By printing money? That is what Germany did in the 1920s.
Sen. Shelby has recently introduced a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution.
Sen. Shelby said that Pell City was a great place and that he would like to live here when he is done in Washington, but he is not ready to finish yet. It is a great place to live. Pell City has had a lot of growth and is continuing to grow.
Sen. Shelby said that he has done a lot more in Washington but that he would like to do a lot more. Shelby joked, “I need to be the czar, the king. I wouldn’t like for anybody else to have that much power.” “At times, President Obama seems like he doesn’t want Congress up there or anybody to hold him accountable.”
Senator Shelby said that he has to be a Senator for the whole nation, but “It is the people of Alabama who send you there…A lot of people forget that. I don’t.”
Shelby says that he travels all over Alabama. “This is my first county this year.” Shelby said that travel keeps his feet on the ground. “I never moved up there (Washington). My home is here in Alabama and when my time is over I will be coming home to Alabama.”
Shelby said that he and US Senator Jeff Sessions (R) serve together we are good friends. “I am on the Senate Appropriations, Banking and Rules committees. He is on the Armed Forces, Judiciary, and Budget committees.” It is a good mix for Alabama.
Shelby said that we try to work with our congressional delegation. There are six Republicans and one Democrat, Terri Sewell. We have a pretty good relationship with each other when it comes to issues pertaining to this state.
Shelby thanked Alabama Republicans for the new Senate Majority. “We raised a lot of money” for Republican Senate candidates in other states. “We have a majority, but don’t have 60 which is enough to shut down debate.” Shelby said that while the Republicans have control of both Houses of Congress, “We don’t have the presidency. That is what we need next.”
“I knew the President when he was in the Senate. He wasn’t here long. This is the most left wing ideological driven administration I have seen in my time in Washington. Their view is not my view.” “I don’t understand how people could vote for this kind of regime,” Shelby said.
Sen. Shelby said that another major challenge the country faces is the radicalization of the Muslim world. Sen. Shelby said that when he was the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee he visited every country in the Middle East. “I don’t see any resolution,” to conflict there. “In the Middle East we have got the Muslims fighting each other. They have been doing this for 1500 years.”
Shelby said that the Sunnis and the Shias hate each other. The Alawite minority in Syria is akin to the Shias and are fighting the Sunnis. “There is not going to be any peace over there. I have been to all of these places. I have been to Syria.” The Sunnis have fought back in Iraq and have taken over half the country. The Hassad regime was oppressing the Sunnis, but we are kind of helping them because the people they are fighting (ISIS) are worse than he is.
Shelby said that Obama wants Congress to give him this power to fight ISIS (the Islamic Society of Iraq and Syria); but Shelby expressed reservations.
Sen. Shelby said, “I don’t know about putting our ground troops in there.” What is the end game? I don’t think we should give the President this much power. Some of my Republican friends do. If it was a President I had a lot of respect for and I knew he had a lot of Resolve that would be one thing. Is this good for America?
Shelby said that China is on the rise and now their economy is equal to ours. They are already an economic challenge and could become a military challenge as well.
Shelby said that Putin’s territorial ambitions in Europe are another challenge.
Sen. Shelby said that the U.S. still produces more products and services than any other country in the world. We are still the wealthiest country in the world. Shelby said that the discovery of vast new sources of gas and oil will help us balance our economy.
Shelby said, “Energy is very important.” He favors building the Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian oil to the gulf for refining. It would lower the price of oil. Canada has heavy oil tar sands. “They are going to develop those tar sands. They are going to sell that oil, whether they sell it to use or sell it to China. A pipeline is a lot safer than hauling it by truck or by rail.”
Sen. Shelby said that Obama is going to veto it. “I wish he would sign it would create thousands of jobs.” Shelby called the President’s decision, “Mind boggling.”
Alabama State Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) asked why the Republicans don’t use the nuclear option and change the rules where everything is done by a simple majority vote. “Are we just being fair?”
Sen. Shelby answered that the Democrats used the nuclear option to stack the courts last year. “Each Senate makes its own rules. We have precedents, but it is not the law…it is rules. The rule is it takes 60 votes to cut off debate. It used to be 67 but hey changed the rule because they thought southerners had too much power. Then last year Democrat changed the rules because we were blocking Obama’s appointments.
Sen. Shelby said that the GOP Senate Caucus kept that. “A lot of Republicans are naïve.” They wanted to go back to the 60 rule. I think we ought to go to the 51 rule. We would pass right now our immigration bill. A lot of the people in the caucus disagree.
Sen. Shelby said, “They (Senate Democrats) broke the eggs. Lets break some more. They will surely do that if they get back in power.”
Sen. Shelby said that he found revelations that NBC anchor Brian Williams was dishonest very funny. Pretty soon Brian Williams will be with Napoleon in France. “When they (dishonest journalists) lie they tell another lie.”
Shelby said, “This administration is going crazy not just environmental but everything else including banking regulations.” “We need to win the presidency.” “The power of the presidency is real.”
Sen. Shelby said that if we develop our gas and oil resources especially in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio we will be the number one producer of oil and gas in the world. The lower cost of energy is already reigniting manufacturing in America because energy costs are important.
On interest rates, Sen. Shelby said, “We have all benefited from lower interest rates.” The Federal Reserve has bought $4.5 billion in securities. Now what are they going to do with them? Shelby said that he supports an audit of the Federal Reserve System.
Shelby said that the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates in the late summer or fall, but warned that “Europe is not doing as well as we are. Germany is doing better than everybody else but their economy is not booming. If Europe goes into a tailspin that affects us. China is not growing as fast as they were.” International economic problems could lead to the Fed not raising rates.
Shelby said, “I voted against that (Obamcare).” We have had the best healthcare system in the world. Obama and the Democrats sold this because it lowered costs. “That was all a lie.” “The Supreme Court of the US has a case before them dealing with the Obamacrare bill.” If they follow the law in their ruling, Obama’s health care law will be in jeopardy. “I hope we don’t rush to the rescue. This is a monster. I am against it.
Sen. Shelby warned that if Iran gets nuclear weapons it will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has the money and resources to go nuclear in response and Egypt will follow. “It changes the whole dynamic in the world” and “Puts little Israel in a quandary.” “Can you imagine if the fanatics in the Middle East get a hold of nuclear weapons?” “We haven’t had a nuclear exchange and we don’t want one.”
Pell City City Clerk Penny Isbell introduced Sen. Shelby. She said that he has introduced a flat tax and a balanced budget amendment every year that he has been in the Senate. Shelby is a fifth Generation Alabamian and a graduate of the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama School of Law.