Burr and Ross Clash in North Carolina Senate Debate

Last week NTUF released its cost analysis of the candidates’ spending platforms in the North Carolina Senate race coinciding with the recent debate between Republican incumbent Richard Burr and Democratic challenger Deborah Ross. Below are some of the issues they highlighted in the discussion:

National Debt and Budget

  • Ross touted her credentials in balancing the budget through revenue increases and spending cuts while she was in the North Carolina state legislature. She said the federal government will have to address the debt the same way: by cutting “redundancies,” targeting “waste, fraud, and abuse,” and she concluded, “if we need to raise revenues we need to be honest about it and we need to do it in a fair way.”

  • Burr criticized Washington’s “rich history… of taxing-and-spending policies” while also stating that “obviously we can’t cut our way to fiscal responsibility”. Burr mentioned President Obama’s proposals to consolidate government agencies as a way of suggesting that Senate Democrats stood in the way of fiscal reform. But, these proposals were made four years ago and were not explicitly endorsed by Burr. Burr also touted budget caps as an example of his attempts to rein in spending while expressing reservations about defense cuts.


  • Ross maintained that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is “much better than what we had before,” and asserted that she would have been in the Senate in 2009, she would have supported the legislation. Ross also claimed that it “needs to be fixed,” but has yet to offer concrete proposals on how she would accomplish this.

  • Burr focused on the rising premiums and costs of the Affordable Care Act and repeated his call to repeal it, which would save the federal government $94 billion per year in spending. Burr did not mention his campaign proposal to replace the ACA. NTUF’s partial estimate for this proposal places the cost at $4.6 billion per year.

Foreign Policy

  • Ross focused on her plan to increase operations against the Islamic State with airstrikes, which could cost approximately $6.8 billion in the first year.

  • Burr, along with Ross, discussed the need to assist allies in the fight against ISIS. These proposals were too vague to be scored.


  • Ross reiterated her support for comprehensive immigration reform, which would cost $22 billion per year.

  • Burr stated his opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, and commented that the legal immigration system had to be fixed before the illegal immigration issue could be addressed.

The Bottom Line: Ross added one new proposal during the debate, but her call to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse is too vague to score. On net, her proposals would increase spending by $54 billion per year. Burr’s platform would reduce spending by $87 billion annually. Both candidates’ agendas also feature a number of proposals whose cost could not be determined.


Detailed line-by-line reports on each candidate are available at ntu.org/foundation.