In their own words: Senate candidates
Posted September 29, 2010 2:11 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2010 5:49 p.m. EDT
Economy and jobs
In July, North Carolina had an official unemployment rate of 9.9 percent—down from 11.1 percent in July 2009. However, counting those who’ve given up looking for jobs or are under-employed, experts say the rate could be as high as 17 percent. What do you think is necessary to encourage job creation? As a senator, what would you do to support job creation in North Carolina?
Burr: To help our economy, I believe the first thing we need to do is not increase taxes. Next year, taxes on virtually every American and business are going to go up. That’s just going to kill our already struggling economy.
Next, we need to reform our tax code. Our complex income tax system punishes work and savings; it is expensive for taxpayers to comply with; and it rewards those special interests who are able to insert tax breaks that benefit only themselves at the expense of everyone else. This is not fair, and it’s not good for our economy.
That’s why the time has come for fundamental reform of our tax code. A tax system that is simpler, fairer and less burdensome will allow us to increase the savings and investment we need to fuel economic growth and job creation into the future.
In addition, I believe that one of the biggest threats to job creation right now is regulatory uncertainty. Right now, small businesses and other employers are living in fear of what will be the next new onerous law or regulation that will come out of Washington. If a small business owner does not know what his or her costs are going to be because Congress is threatening new taxes and regulations, then that small business owner is simply not going to hire new workers. This threat of unknown costs is causing a significant chilling effect on hiring in our economy. For this reason, I am committed to opposing laws that will kill job creation in our state.
Finally, I believe our country will not prosper long-term unless we keep innovating, and we cannot innovate unless our kids are getting the education they need to be part of a competitive workforce. Today, for every three kids, one kid does not even finish high school on time. We will not have the jobs we want until we fix this.
The first bill I introduced this Congress was the Graduate for a Better Future Act (S. 413). By providing more challenging classes, offering more internship and work study programs, and building better relationships with students, we can increase the number of young people who graduate high school and further their education.
Marshall: Families are hurting right now, and North Carolinians feel like the American Dream is slipping away. Creating jobs in North Carolina is my top priority. We have to get this economy going again and get North Carolinians back to work. Improving our economy begins with helping small businesses, the engines of economic growth, and doing more to spur private sector job growth. We have to ease credit and extend tax breaks to small businesses, helping them hire new workers and invest in innovation. And we should expand the manufacturing and Research and Development tax credits and provide additional incentives that encourage businesses to grow and hire. I’ll work to close tax loopholes for corporations that ship jobs overseas, and instead support businesses that create jobs here in America. And I believe we must make smart investments in education, in our infrastructure, and in green energy jobs so that we can create jobs now and keep America competitive in the future.
The oil spill in the Gulf has raised environmental fears about offshore drilling, but pressure still exists for the US to develop more energy sources. Would you support offshore drilling in North Carolina? Under what conditions or regulations? What benefits or disadvantages do you see with offshore drilling?
Burr: Ultimately, I believe states and local communities should be permitted to determine whether or not the exploration for and production of resources off their coast is in their best interest. The situation in the Gulf of Mexico is a tough reminder that decisions made by companies and governments can have severe effects for many stakeholders and communities, and that we must all carefully weigh the risks and benefits of any action when considering federal legislation.
Marshall: I do not support offshore drilling in North Carolina. As the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico showed, offshore drilling brings with it major risks for our economy, our way of life, and our environment. We’ve seen the consequences of Big Oil being in bed with Big Government, and of oil companies that are more concerned with making extra profits than acting responsibly. We’ve seen little evidence that significant oil reserves exist off our coast, and we’ve seen that the risks for North Carolina of drilling irresponsibly are too high. I support investing in the renewable energy sources of the future, rather than the dirty fossil fuels of the past that are only running out and costing us more. North Carolina can be a leader in creating new green energy jobs, if we act now and invest responsibly.
Calls to change America’s immigration system – whether to crack down on illegal immigrants or to provide a path to citizenship – have become increasingly heated recently. Do you support state efforts to curb illegal immigration? As a senator, what changes to the immigration system, if any, would you support?
Burr: As a nation, we have welcomed generations of legal immigrants over the course of our history – immigrants who respect the law and contribute a great deal to our country. Immigrants should demonstrate their intentions of becoming productive, law-abiding members of our society as a condition for receiving citizenship.
I believe that our immigration system is in need of reform for those who are trying to gain citizenship legally. I do not support amnesty, as I do not believe it is fair to reward those who have broken our laws, particularly at the expense of those who have followed the rules and applied for citizenship through the legal process. I believe we should first ensure that our borders are secure, and then we should work to ensure that we have a legal immigration process that is understandable, consistent, and followed.
Marshall: Our immigration system is completely broken. For decades, Washington has let this problem grow. We need to enact comprehensive immigration reform that is tough, realistic, and fair to taxpayers and American workers. I believe we need to get tough on illegal immigration by finally securing our borders, by deporting illegal immigrants who have committed crimes in this country, and by cracking down on corporations that knowingly hire illegal immigrants. And we need to see some responsibility from people that are in this country illegally – that is why I do not support Amnesty. Undocumented workers who are in good standing should have to admit that they broke the law, pay taxes and a penalty, learn English, and get right with the law, before they can get in the back of the line to earn citizenship.
Direction of the country
The headlines report a slew of challenges facing the United States, from the economy and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to health care and the deficit. Those challenges affect North Carolina as well. Do you think the country is moving in the right direction? Do you think North Carolina is?
Burr: Like many North Carolinians, I do not believe we are headed in the right direction. I do not believe that raising taxes, increasing spending and forcing more government intervention into our lives are going to help get Americans back to work. The unprecedented growth of our National Debt is also a major threat to our future, and our debt is only getting bigger, not smaller. However, despite challenges, North Carolina has the opportunity to lead a national recovery through schools, research, and manufacturing.
Marshall: There is no question we are facing tough challenges today. This economic crisis is the worst we’ve seen since the Great Depression. Every day, I meet people who have lost jobs and seen their savings dry up. I work with businesses that are struggling to make ends meet, while Washington plays politics with our future. We’re not moving in the right direction. But I also know that it’s not pessimism that makes us American. I would not be running for this office if I did not know we could turn our country around, help our people get back to work, and put our state and our country back on track for prosperity. We have to tighten our belts, and work a little harder for the people of this state. But, together, we will get through to better times.
If elected to represent North Carolina in the U.S., what would your top priority be?
Burr: I think one of the most pressing issues of our time is our National Debt. Right now, the federal government borrows 43 cents out of every dollar it spends, contributing to a massive debt that already exceeds $13 trillion. I am certain that we will doom our economic future if we keep spending money we do not have. This massive borrowing by the government is eventually going to drive up the interest rates all of us pay – for car loans, mortgages, to invest in growing our businesses – and lead to crippling new taxes. Higher interest rates and higher taxes are two guaranteed job killers, and they will ultimately undermine our future prosperity and standard of living for generations to come.
Getting a handle on our debt situation means we need to do three critical things. First, we need to stop spending money we do not have. If there is spending we feel is necessary, then we must offer ways to pay for it. I have been voting against bills that are not paid for, and I will continue to do so.
Second, we need to start cutting government spending to balance the budget. For example, a 5 percent cut in discretionary spending except veterans and defense would save us $276 billion over 10 years. No one would miss that 5 percent when government spending went up 11 percent this year and inflation was only 2 percent. If we just simply froze this domestic discretionary spending at 2008 levels, we would save $900 billion over 10 years.
Third, we need to put reforms in place to make sure that we never find ourselves in this debt situation again. We can do this by enacting a Balanced Budget Amendment, reimposing caps on spending that have teeth, instituting a real pay-as-you-go rule that is honored, and ending new earmarks.
Marshall: Working to create jobs, and get this economy going again.