Rep. Callahan visits Atmore
Published 8:01 am Sunday, February 10, 2002
By By ROBBIE BYRD
U.S. District 1 House Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-Ala.) visited Atmore Friday for a town meeting.
Callahan gave a brief overview of Congress' current business with Enron and Amtrak, as well as answering questions and handling concerns from residents in attendance.
Callahan, who is chair of the Energy and Water House committee, dispelled some rumors surrounding the recent Enron bankruptcy. He said that a misconception over pension funds and 401K plans was caused by the media's continuing and "overdone" coverage of the bankruptcy.
"Not one Enron employee lost a penny of their pension fund," Callahan said. "The company invested its contributions to employees 401K plans into the company, and that's where the employees might have lost money."
Callahan also denounced Democratic leaders attempts to blame the Enron crisis on the president.
"First it was Bush's fault," Callahan said. "When they saw that wouldn't stick, they decided to blame it on (Vice President Dick) Cheney."
Callahan said that despite current concern over the state of the economy following Sept. 11 the economy is relatively good shape.
"The only economic indicator that is down is consumer confidence," Callahan said. "Everything else is in the right place.
"I see nothing wrong with the economy that demands federal attention," Callahan said.
Callahan said that the reason most American's feel the economy is in trouble is because of an over-inflated stock market that is leveling off.
"It was going to happen," Callahan said. "People are saying they lost money in the stock market, but if you invested $1,000 ten years ago you've still made $8,000," Callahan said. "It went up and down, and that's why people think they've lost money. But the stock market is a gamble and it was over-inflated. It was bound to go down.
Callahan also outlined Congress' plan for the $2.1 trillion national budget presented by President George Bush. He said the budget includes $40 million increase over last year for the defense and homeland security departments, as well as a stimulus package to help boost consumer confidence.
Combating criticism surrounding his nickname as the "pork representative," Callahan said he was proud that Alabama ranked third in the nation for receiving congressional grants, behind only California and Texas.
"I'm proud of that fact," Callahan said.
Callahan also answered questions surrounding Atmore's current industrial woes and said his office would support bringing industry into Atmore.
"We're going to work with industries interested in coming to the community," Callahan said. "We can't go knocking on doors, but we can definitely play a role."
Sympathetic to its reasons for leaving, Callahan said he understood Vanity Fair's decision to close its Escambia County factory and move most of its U.S. operations to Mexico.
"They had an obligation to the stockholders to make the most money," Callahan said. "But they're losing quality and loyalty (by moving to Mexico," Callahan said.
Callahan completed his tour Friday of his district, which included stops in Chatom, Jackson, Monroeville and Brewton on Friday and stops in Mobile, Bay Minette, Daphne, Fairhope, Foley and Gulf Shores last Monday.