A Message from Senator Burr

Earlier this week, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the Senate Finance Committee's health care reform proposal. I agree that the need for health care reform is clear and appreciate the Finance Committee chairman's commitment to working across the aisle on this important issue, but the proposal he put forth fails several crucial tests. In addition to increasing spending and raising taxes, it also cuts Medicare by nearly half a trillion dollars. It makes no sense to jeopardize health coverage for seniors to pay for health care reform. Additionally, this plan is not financially sustainable over the long-term.

Reforming our health care system is important, but it is even more important that we get this right so that our children and grandchildren do not have to spend a lifetime correcting our mistakes. Members of Congress must listen to the concerns of their constituents, rather than focus on arbitrary timelines and rushed solutions.

Also, the House took up legislation this week addressing the Obama Administration's proposal calling for a complete and immediate federal takeover of student loans by eliminating the successful Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL). This means that students and parentswill soon only have one option when it comes to getting a loan to go to college: the federal government. The Senate will be asked to take up this legislation in the coming weeks.

Up to now, students, parents, and schools have benefitted from having a broad choice of lenders for student loans. Competition among private lenders allows for students to seek out and get the best terms and service on their loans. I am opposed to creating a federal monopoly on student loans because it will lead to reduced customer service, more bureaucratic red tape, and no choices as private lenders are squeezed out of the market. It also means American taxpayers will be responsible for putting up $100 billion each year to cover student loans. This takeover will only hurt our students and their families as they pursue a higher education, and I will continue my efforts to prevent such a takeover.

Yesterday, on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, the Administration decided to abandon an important missile defense program for the defense of NATO and our allies in Poland and the Czech Republic. In my opinion, the decision to turn our back on this project was naïve and damaging to our national security interests. In April, the President said-in Prague, no less-that as long as Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile activity remained a threat, we would go forward with the missile defense program. Yesterday's action stands in direct contrast to that commitment. It is clear to me that an armed Iran still poses a threat, and I am afraid getting rid of this program will only empower Russia and Iran, while our eastern European friends question our reliability as an ally.

Additionally, the Senate passed a resolution I co-sponsored with Senator Hagan honoring High Point Furniture Market on their 100th anniversary this week. Next week we expect to take up an appropriations bill to fund the Department of Interior. For timely updates from Washington, please visit my blog.


U.S. Senator Richard Burr