Senate candidates say they support stimulus package

By ED HOWELL
Posted 3/29/20

Both of the Republican runoff candidates in the Alabama U.S. Senate race support having some stimulus package being passed for the nation, although both charged Democrats tried to add wasteful spending to the bill that has been going through the Congress this week.

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Senate candidates say they support stimulus package

Posted

Both of the Republican runoff candidates in the Alabama U.S. Senate race support having some stimulus package being passed for the nation, although both charged Democrats tried to add wasteful spending to the bill that has been going through the Congress this week.

The two candidates, former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, spoke remotely from their homes in separate podcast interviews on the Alabama Policy Institute's "1819 Podcast," which was released Thursday on the institute's website.

Gov. Kay Ivey has moved the Republican runoff to July 14. The winner will face the Democratic incumbent, Doug Jones, in the November General Election.

Sessions, who spoke remotely from Mobile, noted he was not traveling to events and has participated in conference calls and phone calls instead.

"We are not slowing down one bit. It's every day," he said.

Sessions said the virus that spread from China "is an indication of the nature of this Communnist, godless regime." He said the crisis arose in many ways from Chinese officials failing "to tell the people the truth, as they are wont to due in those systems."

He said the virus has made a huge impact, and noted one company told him it laid off workers for 10 days, adding one can imagine the economic impact on families there.

"There is no doubt we're in unprecedented times," Sessions said.

In talking about the economic aid package that the Senate passed and sent to the House, he called it "monumental," adding it was so large it was almost beyond comprehension. But he added the nation doesn't need to be in a position where massive business closures happen. Small businesses that cannot get loans in the wake of the coronavirus may not be about to be reopened, and much of the money will be used for loans that will be paid back, he said.

Sessions said he was proud of Republicans who "fought off some of these left wing non-related agenda items" attached to the bill. He said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats had "no business adding political agenda items" to a bill, like voting rules and same-day registration, that needed bipartisan support" to create confidence with the public something would be done. "It's almost extortion," he added.

He said Republicans appeared to show "fire and vigor" in the fight, when "too often they don't." He said they seemed to win with public opinion.

Sessions said he doesn't know if he would have supported the bill, although "we absolutely need to do something." He said during the housing crisis in 2008 and 2009, the banks were at fault for making bad loans and wanted to be bailed out, but businesses and individuals today are hurt "through no fault of their own" by being told not to get out. "There has got to be some federal money because you could indeed kick off a very serious recession, maybe even possibly a depression," hurting healthy businesses that were doing very well only a short time ago but are now facing bankruptcy. He said hospitals were also at stake.

Asked about concerns about how much restriction to put on the public and about how that is affecting the economy, Sessions said it would be better if local government put on the restrictions rather than the federal government. "This is a balancing act," he said. "We've never seen anything quite like this." He said the shutdown should not be longer than necessary to prevent further damage to the economy.

In a separate podcast, Tuberville noted these are "weird times," noting he is tired of washing his hands - but that he is going to keep washing them. He added hopefully lessons will be learned out of the pandemic on all levels.

"We're fighting an invisible enemy that we don't how to fight back. And we weren't prepared for it, obviously. I don't know if anyone can be 100 percent prepared but it brings out your strengths and it brings out your weaknesses. It's like a football program. If someone finds something weak about you, they're going to bring it out," it said.

He said one doesn't know how to react to this enemy, and people will have to "lean on their leaders" for guidance, starting with President Trump and his experts.

"I think he's doing an excellent job because he is a leader," he said. "He will make a decision, and to me that's what leaders do. You've got to take the information that you have and you make a decision on what is best for the country and for the people in the country.

"Hey, every day it is going to change. I don't think here in Alabama we've seen anything here like we're going to see maybe in the next week or two. I think they are seeing more of it obviously in the bigger cities. It is interesting how people are handling it. But I think at this point people are listening. They are learning, and hopefully paying attention, because I think right now we need to stay away from each other as much as we can because this thing is obviously very, very contagious."

On the $2 trillion stimulus package, he said, "This is D.C.'s worst nightmare." He said he is against big government, adding, "These people can't even come up with a budget." He said the federal government has no "rainy day fund" and is $23 trillion in debt already. "Our elected officials, the swamp, has absolutely almost put this country under," he said, criticizing "career politicians."

Tuberville said, "There should be $500, $600 billion a year saved in a fund to where we can handle stuff like this." He said with the average family or business budget, one cannot "live like Washington D.C. lives."

He said he is a conservative and is not for spending money on anything that is not needed.

"I'm for taking care of the safety of this country but we are to the point the CDC has failed us, the Centers of Disease Control. They were not prepared for this," Tuberville said, saying the CDC has been studying topics like climate change and gun control.

"They haven't been looking or worrying about any diseases," he said, also critical of how Democrats and "rhinos" (Republicans in name only) have added items to the bill.

Tuberville said it was embarrassing how the country be allowed "to put people in harm's way."

He was critical of several items he said people have tried to add, mentioning $7.5 million for the judiciary, $275 million for the federal building fund, $8 million for the National Archives, "$75 million for the Public Broadcasting Company, which should be closed down, by the way," and $35 million for Congress for expenses.

"Are you kidding me?" he said. "The money should go to the people of this country who are hurting. We have businesses going under. And we have these clowns in Washington worried about the Public Broadcasting System?" He later said if 80 percent of the funding doesn't go to people around the nation needing it, there should be an uproar.

Tuberville said Trump's hands are "tied" because people in the establishment want him defeated and he is having to fight. "But I am telling you, at the end of the day, people are going to be called out for this," he said.

Asked if he would support the bill, which at the time was still in the Senate but later passed both houses of Congress with Trump's support, he said he had just gotten the bill that day and not seen all of it. However, he said, "This is where you have to go with the guy you elected as president of the United States." He later added, "If President Trump is for it, I'm for it, because he knows the situation."

Tuberville said money needs to go to people, noting people in his home county, Lee County, are about ready to close their doors because they can't pay their mortgage nor employees.

He said people in Washington don't live in the real world and he called again for departments to be moved out of Washington out into other areas of the nation, saying they are filled with bureaucrats.

Tuberville said Trump, Gov. Kay Ivey and mayors should be allowed to lead on their levels of government. He added, "We cannot crash this economy," saying it cannot continue to survive with 60 percent of the people not working.

"I think it will work out. But we're getting ready for the critical zone in Alabama for the next 10 to 14 days. We'll find out a lot about our state and about our leaders in a short amount of time," he said. The spread of the disease is moving from the North, and the state should be prepared. He said he is encouraging businesses to put up funds to purchase items like medical gowns and gloves, preparing for the worst.

"But folks, if this hits us like some people are saying it will, we are not going to be near ready for this thing, especially our hospitals and the supplies we get," he said.

If leaders wait to get services like temporary treatment facilities, other states may get them instead, he added.