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Washington Unplugged: Sen. Shelby Blasts Stimulus Bill

(CBS)
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told Bob Schieffer on CBSNews.com's new Web program "Washington Unplugged" that he hopes Republican senators can band together on the economic stimulus package to be presented to the Senate next week.

"I hope Bob that the Republicans can stay together. I haven't done a vote count but if we stay together they won't pass that bill," Mr. Shelby said point blank. Though he is "doubtful" they his colleagues will completely unify.

"I think there will be some Republicans that will jump on the bandwagon and jump ship," said Shelby, who is ranking member of the Senate Committee for Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, adding "but I think it's a bad piece of legislation."

Schieffer asked if the bill could pass in the Senate, as it did in the House, without any Republican support to which Shelby exclaimed, "absolutely, not."

"We could keep talking about it. If the Republicans band together, there are forty one of us this bill won't pass."




"I don't believe it is going to turn the economy around," Shelby argued about the House passed version set to hit the senate floor. "If you look at it, it is going to be a trillion dollars, a trillion dollars more. It is probably going to take another trillion dollars dealing with the financial institutions."

"I don't know where the money comes from...we ought to get the private sector involved," he admitted.

Asked what changes Democrats and the White House must make to the bill passed Wednesday by the House, will no Republican support, Shelby was explicit: "we would have to basically scuttle it. Do a one hundred and eighty degree turn."

"We ought to attack the banking crisis first," Senator Shelby explained and he admitted that he told President Obama "you have your priorities wrong."

The key senator called the package "a political statement," well, "at least three forths of it."

"Until we get rid of the cancer in the banking system, nothing is really going to turn around in this country because banks are not lending and if they are not lending they are not going to gain jobs you are going to continue to lose jobs."

"Its bad. Its going to get worse and if we look at the history of stimulus packages all the way to the thirties," the senator told President Obama, "they are checkered at best."

"We've got to attack the portfolios of these banking institutions," he said. "Our banks are loaded with toxic assets." "They don't know what is in their portfolios."

In addition to Shelby, today's debut show of "Washington Unplugged" included an interview with White House spokesperson Bill Burton and a roundtable with CBS News correspondent Chip Reid, CBS News chief political consultant Marc Ambinder and Politico.com's Nia-Malika Henderson.

The hard-hitting, politics-centered show will appear every Friday and showcase CBS News' brightest commentators and correspondents. The fifteen-minute program will feature straight talk from a newsmaker, a discussion of the week in politics, and in depth analysis of issues affecting the new administration. The show will air on CBSNews.com and its content partner Politico.com.

You can watch it below:

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