TARBORO, N.C. — U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said Thursday he is concerned the nation's federal economic recovery plan isn't focused on a permanent and long-term fix.
"I think until we stabilize housing prices – and we can only do that through refinancing – we're not going to turn the corner on this economic downturn," Burr said.
Burr would prefer a plan that would help all Americans refinance their mortgages to lower or fixed rates.
The North Carolina Republican spoke to business and community leaders in Edgecombe County, where the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the state.
According to data released last week by the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, the unemployment rate there was 16.9 percent in February, up from 15.5 percent in January. Statewide, the unemployment rate is at 11.3 percent.
"I didn't support this economic stimulus package, because I didn't believe it was targeted in the right way. Much of it goes to temporary employment," Burr said.
Last Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden toured eastern North Carolina in an effort to highlight the $787 billion federal stimulus package President Barack Obama signed earlier this year.
Biden said the recovery program will help rural communities not only survive the recession but thrive when the economy improves.
Nearly $1.8 billion in federal stimulus funding was released last Wednesday to guarantee loans and make credit available for small-town home buyers, Biden said.
The newly released aid, part of the $10.4 billion that the stimulus package directs to rural housing projects, is expected to help about 15,000 families nationwide, the vice president said.
Burr also raised concerns about the federal government's involvement in bailouts, saying rescuing companies like J. P. Morgan while letting others, like Lehman Brothers fail, sets a bad precedent.
"We've now got government in a role that's not only uncomfortable and unnatural, but wrong," he said. "I'm impatient with the way things are going right now. We're too wrapped up in picking winners and losers, this company or that company."