4/10/2009 - Senator Shelby holds meeting in Marion
By Michael J. Brooks
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby met with Perry County residents on Friday at the Gateway Restaurant in Marion and answered questions that seemed to center on bail-outs, taxes and integrity in government.
"We're tilting left in our county now," Shelby said. "What we're seeing is borrowing from Peter to pay Paul so that Paul will vote for you."
Shelby said that two percent of the people pay 50 percent of the taxes, and he has no interest in taking more of the people's money.
"People who invest their wealth are the job creation machinery of our country," he said. "This is how we climb out of recession--we let the free market work. It may be slow, but the stock market will come back."
Shelby, first elected to the senate in 1986, noted that he's represented Perry County for 31 years since his U.S. House seat included the area.
"The Black Belt is deeply challenged," he said, "but I've tried to do all I can to help."
Perry County commissioner Albert Turner asked for Shelby's help with the local airport and transportation, and Perry County Chamber of Commerce executive-director John Martin thanked Shelby for his help in the past with the airport.
"We've been able to rebuild nearly 40 airports in the state," Shelby said. "This helps growth. Without being able to land corporate jets, communities won't grow. That's just the way it is now in America."
Shelby noted that transportation money comes to the state from the federal government, but it's the people of the state who pay gas taxes that grow the funds.
"I've been able to help with some of this money," he said, "but sometimes I'm not able to get all I'd like for Alabama."
Shelby said he'd opposed the TARP bail-out plan for America's banks. Though unsuccessful, he said he and others were able to "slow it down" a bit.
He drew a distinction between "pork" and what he called "worthy projects."
"Since the stimulus bill passed, the working people of Alabama will pay for it," he said. "That's why I've not been hesitant to propose using the money now to benefit our state."
Shelby noted that governments don't have money on their on, other than borrowing money, which he called a commitment to future taxation.
"We must be fair with the money the government takes from the people and use it wisely," he said. "We've seen plenty of bad decisions in the government and the wasting of the people's money. Government needs to let the market system work and stay out of as much of people's lives as possible."
Neal Eiland, vice president of "Impact Group of Perry County," said that he'd given a packet to Shelby's aid, and he wanted the senator's advice on making local government accountable. Eiland mentioned the cost-overruns at the recently-completed Perry County jail as an example of his concern.
Shelby promised to read the materials and said, "All of us benefit from honesty in government. Without integrity we all lose."
Marion resident Carrie Ramey thanked Shelby for his "conservative leadership" and asked for his help supporting social security and eliminating the "death tax."
"The math doesn't work on social security," Shelby said. "If you're getting it now or soon, you'll be fine, but our youth people shouldn't count on it."
Shelby also noted that he'd tried to eliminate the "death tax" in order to save small businesses, family farms and timber land.
"The tax now includes monies over $3 1/2 million, but I want it raised to $5 million," he said.
* Article courtesy of the Judson College Public Relations Department.