Prattville – United States Republican Senator Richard Shelby visited Prattville Wednesday morning to discuss the national debt, the state of the economy, and health care reform, at a breakfast sponsored by the Prattville Chamber of Commerce.
Since 1986, Shelby has served in the Senate, and is ranking member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. He is also a senior member of the full Appropriations Committee and the Special Committee on Aging.
A Tuscaloosa native, the senior Alabama Senator, on a session break in Washington, tours the state beginning in January of each year in order to address the concerns of citizens.
“In twenty-four years, I’ve had over 1,500 public meetings,” Shelby began. “I don’t travel the world, I travel in Alabama, and I’m accountable to the people of Alabama.”
The senator then complimented the city on the Robert Trent Jones facility and declared that it was good to be back in the area, saying that he was indebted to the county.
“In 2004, I ran for my fourth term and received 80% of the votes here in Autauga County, so I’m grateful and thankful for that,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of friends here over the years and I’m very thankful for them … thank you for the breakfast, too.”
Shelby spoke about the state of the union and of the economy.
“We’re in a world recession – we’re going to be there this year and maybe part of 2011 also,” he said. “The FDIC Chairman told me she thinks we’re going to lose 200-300 banks this year, and that’s not good for the economy.”
From a pie chart at the podium, Shelby explained that the 2010 budget was nearly $3 trillion and that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid right now make up 41% of all the expenditures with an estimated increase up to 65% of all of the budget.
“It took us two hundred years to break through the ceiling and owe $1 trillion,” said Shelby. “That is including the First World War, the Depression, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, plus accumulating deficits … and that was 1982.”
“Since 1982 we have added $13 trillion and we’re headed on a path right now during this administration to go to $20 trillion.”
Although the senator stated he liked the president personally, he hoped the Obama health care plan failed, saying that our health care system was the best in the world.
When the presentation was opened up into a public forum, Shelby asked Prattville Mayor Jim Byard Jr. about the City of Prattville.
“Let me say this,” the mayor began. “Two years ago when the tornado hit here, your office was most helpful then in our time of strife. You didn’t wait for us to call, you called us.”
When asked about bailouts, the senator replied that he would continue to oppose them.
“We need to let people fail,” he said. “The market doesn’t always work the way we want it to, but it does work.”
Shelby spoke with Our Prattville after the meeting about what his priorities would be during the upcoming session.
“Well, my priority right now is stopping the health care bill,” Shelby answered. “I’m also involved in a bank regulatory battle and just had one Republican jump ship on us.”
Senator Shelby has recently come under fire for blocking about seventy administration nominees in order to try to get an Air Force tanker project and thousands of jobs for Alabama.
“The media said I was wrong in putting on the blanket hold,” said Shelby. “They said I was trying to bring jobs to Alabama and I said … absolutely.”
In addition to Byard, other elected officials in attendance were Prattville Council President Dean Argo, Councilman Mike Renegar, Autauga County Commissioner Jay Thompson, Autauga County Commission Chairman Danny Chavers, State Representative Mac Gipson, Autauga County Probate Judge Al Booth, and Autaugaville Mayor F.B. Ward.
Article by Melissa Parker
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