Senator Richard Burr said today there’s not much Congress can do in the short term to address the financial unease that’s been roiling US and world markets for the past week.
Some critics, mainly from the Tea Party, have been calling on President Barack Obama to bring Congress back from summer recess for an emergency session. They say immediate action to cut the country’s debt could soothe skittish investors and calm the markets.
Burr agrees congressional action is needed, and soon. “We need to reform our tax code. we need to reform our budget process in Washington, we need to have an honest conversation with the American people about what the real needs are for a smaller, less expensive federal government,” he said.
Burr said he expects Congress will debate those big-picture issues by the end of the year – possibly in response to recommendations from the budget-cutting Super Committee, whose membership was finalized today. No North Carolina lawmakers were named to the panel.
For now, though, he says Congress can’t do much more than watch the markets as anxiously as everyone else. “There are not many tools that we’ve got left in our toolbox to turn this economy around and re-inflate employment. So we’ve got to focus quickly and precisely on what it is we use.”
But if Congress can enact tax and entitlement reform and begin to turn the US economy around, Burr predicted the debt crisis in Europe could have a silver lining – it could push global capital into the United States “for the stability of our currency and our market.”
“I think we could have the opportunity to have a great renaissance of economic growth,” he continued. “And North Carolina, I’m optimistic, will be at the forefront of that, just simply because of all we have to offer.”
Burr was in Raleigh today to visit Wakemed for a demonstration of new software aimed at tracking and reducing healthcare-related infections. He also toured a medical training simulation center, funded in part by federal grant dollars he helped the hospital secure.
After the tour, Burr said the new software is a perfect example of how technology can help the healthcare industry cut its costs while providing better care.
“The quality of US health care is not something we can compromise. But we also have to face the realities, whether it’s Medicare, Medicaid or private pay healthcare, we can’t stay on the inflation rate that we’re currently under and believe that this is sustainable.”
Watch the short press conference at right.