U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, visited Hartselle on Wednesday, Feb. 20 for a town hall meeting with the people of Morgan County.
During his visit, held at The Freight House, Shelby spoke to citizens about concerns on the federal debt, sequestration and numerous other concerns.
“Everything we do in Washington, D.C., affects you in Morgan County in some way, “ said Shelby, who is in his fifth term as a senator.
The crowd, hosted by Hartselle city officials and Hartselle Mayor Don Hall, included several city and county officials such as Susan Hines, president of the Hartselle Area Chamber, Ben Peck, project manager for Morgan County Economic Development Association, and Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson.
Shelby told the crowd his main concern is the federal debt.
“We’re the largest debtor nation in the world,” Shelby said. “That’s the No. 1 issue facing this nation. Are we going to spend and borrow our way into political bankruptcy?”
The country’s $16.5 trillion debt will not be solved by sequestration, he added.
Since the appropriation bills approved by Congress created a total sum of government spending that surpasses the government’s budget, sequestration, if Congress does nothing to delay or avoid it, will enact automatic across-the-board budget cuts for all programs. On March 1, the federal government is supposed to start making cuts that will, in theory, cut spending throughout the next decade by $1.2 trillion.
The federal statute of sequestering funds, called the Budget Control Act of 2011, substituted an instant debt ceiling increase of $400 billion, for a $2.4 trillion deficit reduction spread across the following ten years, including program cuts.
“This is not the way to do business,” Shelby said. “We’re going to have to look at every program.”
Shelby said the cuts would hurt Morgan County in a “ripple effect,” stemming from reductions to be made to the Defense Department budget, which would affect Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.
Shelby voted against the sequestration act. He said such cuts “keep the bad with the good” instead of the government selecting cuts based on the country’s and citizens’ needs. Sequestration, he said, keeps programs “not necessary for the wellbeing of government.”
“What about fair treatment of the tax payer?,” he said.
Shelby supports the revamping of tax codes to end what he called “cooperate welfare.” He also said he supports decreasing the individual tax rate, where no one would pay more than 25 percent of their income.
Shelby said Senate and House members must have political courage to represent their constituents and the best interest of the nation. He is in the minority crowd of Republications in the Senate, while Democrats are in the minority in the House.
The House approved the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012, introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan, as a way to “responsibly reprioritize sequester saving,” Shelby said. The Senate, however, killed the Act.
“Some people don’t want to make the tough vote,” Shelby said. “They don’t want to come home either. Do you think they would have a meeting like this?”
Other topics Shelby touched on were:
• Gun rights: “We all hate tragedy,” Shelby said. “But I have guns and I’ve had them all my life. I’m a second amendment person.” He said when a publication conducting a survey of senators asked how many guns he had, his answer was that he had “enough guns.”
• Immigration: “This is the land of opportunity. We’re all immigrants,” Shelby said. “But I’ve always thought we were a land of law.”
• Foreign aid: Shelby said he is committed to supporting U.S. allies. He touched on the problems in the Middle East saying stabilizing it is a hard job. He also said he voted against sending advanced planes and equipment to Egypt.
• Government bailouts: Shelby said he was the leading opposition against the Troubled Asset Relief Program. “You can’t reward failure,” he said. The taxpayers still are paying for TARP, “don’t kid yourselves,” he said.
• Executive orders: When asked by a Morgan County resident what he could do about executive orders by the president, Shelby said the Senate or House can challenge the order in court.
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|