Foundation

North Carolina Senate Candidate Agenda Analysis: Incumbent Senator Richard Burr

by Demian Brady, Andrew Wilford / /

North Carolina Senate Candidate Spending Agenda Analysis


Republican Incumbent Richard Burr


Economy, Transportation and Infrastructure

Trade Enforcement: “ … [W]e need to enforce our fair trade laws. When a country engages in an unfair trade practice — like currency manipulation or illegal dumping — and causes harm to our economy, we need to respond swiftly and directly.” (source)

Cost per Year: $4 million ($22 million over five years)

Notes: Burr is a cosponsor of S. 433, the Currency Undervaluation Investigation Act. The proposal would require the Commerce Department to investigate allegations that foreign governments are unfairly subsidizing exporters. A similar provision was included in a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. The investigations would require hiring 19 additional staff, with a total cost of $22 million over five years.

Education, Science and Research

Education and Career Training Investment: “ … [W]e need to ensure employers have an educated, competitive workforce from which to draw talent, and that means having better schools and career development opportunities at all levels. … Investing in education and career training programs for a more educated workforce.” (source)

Cost per year: $1.924 billion (first-year cost)

Notes: Burr  is a cosponsor of S.316, the Expanding Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act. The legislation (introduced in 2015) called to increase federal spending on charter schools from $253 million in FY 2015 to $300 million in FY 2016, and authorize “such sums as necessary” for subsequent years. In the 113th Congress, Burr was a sponsor of S. 1101, the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act, to “ensure that every child is ready for college or a career.” NTUF estimated that the legislation would have increased spending by $1.877 billion per year. It is unclear what additional measures he would support pursuant to “investing in education and career training programs.”

Child Care Affordability: “Make child care ... more affordable for working families.” (source)

Cost per year: $278 million ($1.389 billion over five years)

Notes: Burr is a sponsor of S. 3233, the Promoting Affordable Childcare for Everyone Act, to make the Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC) fully-refundable. “Refundable” tax credits increase spending because they can be claimed by individuals regardless of their income tax liability. President Obama’s FY 2015 budget proposal included an expansion of the CDCC and would have made it refundable, increasing outlays by $1.389 billion over five years.

College Affordability: “Make … college more affordable for working families.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: Burr has sponsored S. 2869, the Boost Saving for College Act, that would provide tax credits for contributions to educational savings plans. The proposal would not impact spending.

Student Loans: “We … need to make it easier for graduates to pay off their student loan debt.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: Burr is a sponsor of S. 85, the Repay Act, a bill to establish a simplified income-based repayment plan for federal student loans. Senator Angus King (I-ME), a cosponsor of the bill, says the “legislation is estimated to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade,” an official cost estimate is unavailable.

Government Reform

Tax Reform: “ … [W]e must reform the federal income tax system. Our current tax system is unfair, punishes the middle class, and is overly complex for both families and employers. In order to jumpstart growth, we need to reform the federal tax code to eliminate loopholes that benefit special interests and lower the tax burden for everyone.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: Reducing the complexity of the Tax Code could reduce enforcement and administrative costs, but a cost estimate is indeterminate.

Health Care

Affordable Care Act - Repeal: “I have a plan to repeal ... Obamacare … .” (source)

Cost per year: -$94.04 billion (-$470.2 billion over five years)

Notes: The Congressional Budget Office has not completed an analysis of all of the spending related to President Obama’s signature health care law. A January 2016 CBO estimate of repealing the Affordable Care Act showed that direct spending would be reduced by $470.2 billion over five years, and there are potentially additional unreported discretionary savings.

Affordable Care Act - Replace: “My solution to Obamacare, the Patient CARE Act, would go a long way in making quality, affordable healthcare available to every American.” (source)

Cost per Year: $4.629 billion ($23.147 billion over five years) (partial estimate)

Notes: The Patient CARE Act would repeal the Affordable Care Act (scored above) and replace it with the following proposals highlighted by Burr:

  • Consumer Protections: “Adopting common-sense consumer protections.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear whether this would impact spending.

  • Pre-existing Conditions: “Creating a new protection to help Americans with pre-existing conditions.”

Cost per Year: $7.964 billion ($39.819 billion over five years)

Notes: In 2014, the Center for Health and Economy published a detailed plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The reforms included a proposal to re-establish federal funding for high-risk pools to help provide health insurance coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. Funding would start at $7.5 billion in the first year and increase by three percent annually.

  • Small Businesses: “Empowering small businesses and individuals with greater purchasing power.”

Cost per Year: $7 million ($37 million over five years)

Notes:  Related legislation has been introduced in Congress as H.R. 2868, the Small Business Health Fairness Act. The legislation’s text was included in S. 2519, the Empowering Patients First Act of 2015. The Congressional Budget Office has not provided a cost estimate of an association health plan proposal since it analyzed H.R. 525, the Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2005. CBO determined that the Department of Labor would hire 150 workers over three years to administer the program and the legislation’s certification requirements, costing $68 million (in current dollars) over the first five years. CBO also determined the provision would reduce Medicaid enrollment for a five year savings of $31 million (in current dollars). With the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, savings could be higher through this reform, but a current cost estimate is unavailable.

  • Health Care Tax Credits: “Providing tax credits to those who do not have health care coverage through their employer.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: The credits would be “refundable” and could be claimed by individuals regardless of their income tax liability.

  • Health Insurance Purchasing Across State Lines: “Allowing Americans to buy coverage across state lines.”  

Cost per Year: $38 million ($191 million over five years)

Notes: Related legislation was introduced in Congress that would allow for the purchase of health insurance across state lines. Currently, a 1945 law permits the states to regulate health insurance plans within their borders; however there is an exemption for certain large employers who self-insure. The Congressional Budget Office conducted a cost estimate for H.R. 2355 (109th Congress), the Health Care Choice Act of 2005. The bill would provide for cooperative governing of individual insurance coverage offered in interstate commerce. At the time, CBO estimated that the bill would increase spending by $160 million over five years ($191 million, adjusted for inflation). It is unclear whether this cost estimate would be higher or lower today given that it was originally calculated prior to the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

  • Legal Reforms: “Reducing defensive medicine and reining in frivolous lawsuits through medical malpractice reforms.”

Cost: -$3.38 billion (-$16.9 billion over five years).

Notes: A related proposal was included in the CBO’s report titled Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2014 to 2023. A more recent cost estimate is unavailable.

  • Healthcare Pricing Transparency: “Making healthcare pricing more transparent to empower consumers and patients.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear whether this would impact federal spending.

Homeland Security & Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement - Equip with Tools to Thwart Terrorism: “Equip our law enforcement ... community with the tools they need to thwart terrorist plots and keep America safe.” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear whether this would entail increased spending.

Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes:  “I am committed to making our world a just and safe place for all people. It has inspired my fight to protect the rights and dignity of crime victims. … .” (source)

Cost per Year: $2 million ($10 million over five years)

Notes: Burr is a cosponsor of S. 2854, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act. The Act would permanently extend current funding levels ($12 million annually), and establish a new task force funded with an additional $2 million per year.

National Defense and Foreign Affairs

Islamic State: “We must seek out and destroy the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations that seek to do America harm. … [W]e must… [t]ake the fight to where the terrorists recruit and train so that they cannot bring the war to our shores.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear whether additional resources would be required to fight terrorism.

Intelligence Funding: “[W]e must… [e]quip our ... intelligence community with the tools they need to thwart terrorist plots and keep America safe.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: Intelligence funding data is classified and it is unclear whether Burr would support spending increases.

Sanctions - Iran: “If we are serious about preventing a nuclear Iran, the United States should reinstate sanctions against this state sponsor of terrorism.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: Related legislation was introduced as S. 1682, the Iran Sanctions Relief Oversight Act, which would extend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 for ten years through December 2026. There could be increased administrative costs, but a cost estimate is not available. Senator Burr is not a sponsor of the legislation.

Sanctions - Russia: “It is our responsibility to impose sanctions and ensure that Russia works with the international community to achieve peace.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: A cost estimate is indeterminate. Depending on the degree of sanctions imposed, there could be administrative costs to the federal government.

Veterans

Health Care: “Fix the VA health care system by urging Congress to pass my Veterans Choice Improvement Act, legislation that would cut the red tape and bureaucratic hassles, confusion and delays that still stand in the way of veterans and much-needed medical care.” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: The Veterans Choice Improvement Act, introduced in the Senate as S. 2646, would make permanent the Veterans Choice program, reform it to remove enrollment deadlines, increase the amount of eligible providers, and create a nationwide claims processing system. A cost estimate is not available.

Homelessness: “End veteran homelessness by pressing for passage of my bipartisan Homeless Veterans Prevention Act.” (source)

Cost per year: $200 million (first-year cost)

Notes: Burr is a sponsor of S. 684, the Homeless Veterans Prevention Act of 2015, to increase funding for a veteran homelessness program from $300 million to $500 million.


}