Shelby: Too many people ‘riding wagon’

Published 1:28 am Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A planned meet-and-greet with U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Saturday afternoon at PowerSouth was more like a roundtable discussion with the dozen people who attended.

Shelby deftly guided the conversation through hot-button issues of the day – gun control, immigration, the economy and Obamacare, and pretty much agreed with the constituents in attendance.

“Committing a crime with a gun should be a real no-no,” Shelby said, adding that he believes gun violence is affected by violence in the mass media.

“People watch it, children watch it. It’s got to be not good,” he said. “But then let’s talk about real things. “There are First Amendment rights – you know, freedom of speech, in the press, radio or TV,” he said. “If you argue portraying violence is a First Amendment right, you will probably win.

Then there is the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, he said.

“They say, ‘well, you can restrict that,’ ” he said. “But in what way?

“Then there’s another amendment, having to do with not picking up people, people with challenges, veterans, or people with emotional or mental problems,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of this. So we’ve got all of these constitutional things we’re chasing there in trying to resolve this.”

Turning to the economy, Shelby said he wasn’t shocked by a report released last week that the U.S. economy contracted in the last quarter of 2012.

“It shocked some people, but it didn’t shock me,” he said. “We’re really not hiring people yet. Small businesses are afraid of the government right now. There’s a lot of uncertainty.”

Asked about tax rules that make it prohibitive for companies doing businesses offshore to bring the profits home to reinvest, Shelby said the tax plan is broken.

“We don’t have a good code,” he said. “I personally believe our tax code is made up – and we have volumes and volumes – by whoever had the most powerful lobbyists to lobby for this cutout and that cutout.

“If we would do massive tax reform and lower individual rates, it would be better,” he said. “I personally don’t believe anybody should pay over 25 percent, I don’t care who they are.”

Eighty percent of the jobs are created by small and medium-sized businesses, he said.

“If we tax them to death, they won’t do business here.”

Turning to “Obamacare,” Shelby said it eventually will add more costs to health care.

“That’s more costs, and people are not gonna hire because there’s no certainty in it,” Shelby said.

“I thought Supreme Court was going to reverse (Obamacare). I guess (Chief Justice John Roberts, who voted for Obamacare) wanted them to write good things about him in the New York Times, so he voted to uphold it.

“Once the Supreme Court said that was legal – and they stretched boundaries of reason to do that – there’s not much we can do about it.”

Politicians can only hope to “chip away at it,” he said.

“A lot of people don’t realize it, but it will eventually ration healthcare. The cost is going to go up, and the quality will go down,” he said. “I bet you a hundred dollars.”

He said he also supports raising the age at which people qualify for Social Security benefits, which could save the country $1 trillion.

“I don’t know if (Congress) would have the courage to do all of that,” he said.

“We’ve got so many people riding in the wagon and so many people pulling it,” he said. “Right now, there are more people riding it than pulling it.”