Blaming Republican Sen. Richard Burr for contributing to the loss of thousands of North Carolina jobs “that used to be the lifeblood of our state,” his Democratic challenger called Tuesday for doubling federal spending on retraining displaced workers and other measures to offset the effects of globalization.
Former state Rep. Deborah Ross said the two-term Republican senator has repeatedly voted for trade deals and tax breaks that contributed to the out-sourcing of jobs.
“As your senator, I will fight to end trade policies that put corporate special interests above the interests of North Carolina workers and families,” she said.
Burr’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Ross has previously declared her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade deal with Asian rim nations that is supported by President Barack Obama, but opposed by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Ross said that Burr not only has backed trade deals that helped American companies move factories abroad, but he also supported shrinking available funds for retraining impacted workers so they could find new employment.
She said that Burr:
▪ Voted five times to protect tax breaks for corporations that moved plants and jobs overseas, “and accepted significant campaign contributions from the very companies that shipped jobs away.”
▪ Supported nine different trade agreements that hurt North Carolina workers.
▪ Voted against extending Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits, which helps retrain workers who lose their jobs due to outsourcing.”
▪ Supported a measure that would have repealed the Trade Adjustment Assistance program and rolled it into a block grant.
“He also voted to eliminate a program that provided North Carolina more than $60 million for education and job training for workers whose jobs had been displaced,” Ross said.
“In addition to rewriting the rules of trade, we must prepare every single worker with the skills they need to succeed in the global economy,” Ross said. “We need more good-paying jobs that are enough to support a family, put food on the table, help kids pay for college and (help workers) save for a secure retirement.”
Ross said she wants to double the funding for worker retraining over the next decade, would push to allow college students to refinance their federally backed loans at lower rates and wants the government to provide two free years of community college for students with good grades.
This story updates to add that Burr’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.