U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby wasted little time in getting around to speaking his mind during a visit to Cullman Wednesday morning.
“I’m unarmed and have no bodyguard, but I do have guns. And I intend on keeping them,” said Shelby to an applauding crowd at Williams Barbecue. “The Second Amendment is very important. We all hate what happens when we have a tragedy. President Obama and the Democrats are making a move, but I’m going to be on the other side, all the way. That’s (more gun control) not going to solve the problem of disturbed people committing crimes.”
Shelby then turned his attention to immigration, noting that legislation passed 27 years ago was supposed to solve the issue.
“The Simpson-Mazzoli Act was the mother of all immigration bills. It was supposed to solve everything, but it’s only gotten worse,” Shelby said.
Highlights of Simpson-Mazzoli included:
- employers attesting to their employees' immigration status.
- criminalizing the deliberate hiring or recruitment of unauthorized immigrants.
- legalization of certain seasonal agricultural illegal immigrants.
- legalization of illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982. About three million illegal immigrants were granted legal status.
But the Republican senator noted that the estimate of illegal or unauthorized immigrants now stands at least four times the number granted legal status in 1982.
“Underneath it all will be the amnesty issue. I know that some of the immigrants contribute taxes to our economy and contribute to our communities. But we’re still supposed to be a nation of laws,” he said. “Before 1965 we had strict immigration laws. They knocked all of that out with the Great Society. I’m going to hang tough to enforce the law.”
Concern over the national debt was also relayed to Shelby, who called the issue the “greatest challenge facing the nation.”
“To give an example of what we face, in 1980 we had not broken through the $1 trillion level. We had been through World War II, Vietnam and other events, but we were still below that level. Now we are looking at $16.5 trillion, which could grow to $30 trillion. It’s financial suicide,” Shelby said.
The senator, in his fifth term, said the Obama administration and some members of Congress believe the nation can spend its way to prosperity. He also said Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has contributed to the problem and that the country’s continued printing of money that doesn’t exist is vastly devaluing the dollar and threatening to bring more inflation.
“We’re going to end up like Greece if we keep going in this direction. I’m ready to make the hard decisions, some that may not be popular. I believe we need to look carefully at what we spend and be selective in what we cut,” he said. “We have some places that are doing OK in the economy, but generally we’re just muddling along.”
Shelby also noted that Social Security is headed for trouble unless Congress adjusts the eligibility age.
“Social Security has been a good program, but young people have no faith in it, and they shouldn’t. It’s kind of a pyramid scheme, and (Franklin) Roosevelt knew that. What we can do is extend the life of it by changing the age up and save one or two trillion dollars,” Shelby said. “A lot of people say we’re trying to do away with it, but we want to do is save it for the future.”
Shelby also said the Obama administration has no energy policy and has prevented the nation from emerging as a leader in oil and natural gas production. He also said the Republican Party could have won the presidential election with a better effort in getting voters to the polls.
David Palmer may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 213.