To the Editor:
North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, a self-defined fiscal conservative, has a lot of explaining to do. He recently rejected to extend unemployment benefits to millions of Americans because Democrats did not seek spending cuts to offset the $34 billion price tag. His position seemed to be logical and fair.
Burr’s voting record paints a different picture. He voted for the 2001 Bush tax cuts that cost over $890 billion in lost revenue. He voted yes on another extensive tax cut in 2003. The two massive tax cuts for the wealthy have cost us over $2 trillion. He also voted for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002 that has cost over $900 billion. Burr voted yes on these measures without seeking to offset their costs with spending cuts.
A common sense fiscal conservative would tell you that you cannot cut taxes and increase spending if you want to keep the deficit under control. Burr even voted for TARP, which will end up costing us $109 billion.
His yes vote for TARP shows that he is not really a free-market conservative. He understands that the federal government has to intervene into the economy when it is necessary. I believe he made the right decision by voting for TARP, even though it was and still is extremely unpopular. Nearly every economist agrees that the bank bailout saved us from another depression. Now Congress and Burr need to address “too big to fail” to prevent another financial collapse.
Burr ended up voting against the stimulus package in 2009 in an attempt to showcase his conservative credentials and backtrack from his wayward support of TARP, but his voting record is difficult to hide.
As of July 15, Burr has $6.3 million to spend for his reelection campaign, and he might have to spend every dollar to convince North Carolinians that he is a true fiduciary. Challenger Elaine Marshall has $163,000 on hand to combat Burr this fall. It will be tough for Marshall to overcome Burr’s big money, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is somewhat responsible for this huge discrepancy since they refused to endorse her during the primaries. This is forcing her to play catch-up.
A 38 to 1 funding advantage may help Burr sleep peacefully at night, but a lot can happen before November. Elaine Marshall needs to give specific alternatives to Burr’s supply-side economic policies that squandered Clinton’s $230 billion budget surplus. Burr helped Bush double the deficit in eight years. Now he wants to portray himself as a fiscal conservative. We should not let him off so easily. Elaine Marshall may be far behind in fundraising, but Burr’s record is her greatest weapon.