Local News

Burr delivers GOP challenge to Obama's budget

Posted February 28, 2009 10:22 a.m. EST
Updated February 28, 2009 3:10 p.m. EST

— In his first time delivering the Republican response to President Barack Obama's weekly address, Sen. Richard Burr said the president's proposed budget doesn't exhibit fiscal restraint and will burden future generations with massive debt.

Burr agreed with the president that Democrats and Republicans need to "rally together" to solve deep economic problems facing the United States. But, the senator said, the parties can honestly disagree on the best solutions.

"Republicans and Democrats agree on where we want to go, but we disagree on how to we're going to get there," Burr said.

He said Obama is pushing "the single largest increase in federal spending in the history of the United States, while driving the deficit to levels that were once thought impossible. .... It's long past time to show restraint and to make the tough choices that will help put our fiscal house in order."

Obama released a 134-page outline of a nearly $4 trillion budget Thursday, covering many of his health care, economic, energy, education and tax priorities. It also has a $1.75 trillion deficit – nearly four times last year's record deficit and the highest portion of the economy – 12 percent – since World War II. The administration's projections show the annual deficit lessening but amassing to more than $4 trillion over the president's four-year term.

Burr likened the deficit to living off credit cards and claimed it would obligate the typical American family to pay $52,000 in interest alone over the next 10 years.

"Like a family that finds itself choking under the weight of credit card balances and finance charges, the federal government is quickly obligating the American people to a similar fate," Burr said.

The president used his weekly address to push for the budget, saying it takes tough stances to get necessary measures past entrenched interests.

"I know that the insurance industry won't like they idea that they'll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that's how we'll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs," the president said. "I know that banks and big student lenders won't like the idea that we're ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that's how we'll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won't like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that's how we'll help fund a renewable energy economy."

In the conclusions to their speeches, both president and senator touched the same theme – preserving the American Dream.

The budget starts "change that will grow our economy, expand our middle class and keep the American Dream alive for all those men and women who have believed in this journey from the day it began," Obama said.

 "For two centuries, the American Dream has depended on the simple belief that men and women work hard so their children would have a better future," Burr said. "Looking at the spending priorities of the Democrats in Washington in the proposed budget and over the past month, it's hard to escape the reality that for the first time, we could see the American Dream vanish."