NC Dem Challenger Pushing For Min. Wage Increase, Gender Pay Bill, And Obamacare

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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One hotly contested Senate race in North Carolina could — depending on the outcome — mean drastically different future policy agendas in finance, healthcare, job-creation, small business growth, and human rights initiatives.

The race in question features Republican incumbent Sen. Richard Burr and Democratic challenger Deborah Ross. A late shift in the polls at the end of October put Ross ahead by four points, but Burr managed to regain the lead in early November. The incumbent is now showing a 1.5-point lead over Ross, according to the most recent Real Clear Politics polling average.

Sen. Richard Burr is chairman of the Senate Committee on Intelligence and majority member of the Senate Committee on Finance. Deborah Ross is the daughter of an Air Force pilot, graduate of Brown University and received her law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

As the acting chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Burr directs U.S. intelligence agencies to “devise and execute a comprehensive strategy that clearly identifies our enemies and the resources required to eliminate the threat.” Combating ISIS, and other organizations which intend to do America harm, should be the top national security agenda for the United States, according to Burr.

Ross agrees with Burr that the United States should be “committed to defeating ISIS and global terrorism. Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our families.” Her position on terrorism could be a key reason Ross is polling so well in the final moments of the election, as Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about the threat of terrorism and national security issues.

The incumbent has long been a proponent of human rights issues. Burr championed the 2015 Military Sex Offender Reporting Act, a bill which closed a legal loophole that allows sex offenders convicted under the military justice system to evade being placed on the National Sex Offender Registry. Burr is also a staunch supporter of the Violence Against Women Act.

Ross supposedly agrees with Burr on these social issues. “We’ve come a long way on women’s rights, but we have more to do,” Ross writes on her campaign site. “We should be focused on making progress on issues like equal pay and paid family leave. Not only do these reforms help women prosper, they would help our families prosper.”

She wants to focus on promoting a more fair economy by raising the minimum wage and by pushing a measure to ban employers from paying employees differently based on gender. “This disparity not only sets women back, it negatively impacts dual-income households and households where women are the primary or secondary breadwinners,” Ross writes on her campaign website.

In addition to these measures, she plans to continue this fight by pushing for a national fair pay act which would address issues of equality in the hiring process and contract negotiations.

Business, the tax burden and healthcare are also important issues for Burr, who purportedly wants to reform the tax code, and repeal and replace Obamacare, plans he provides on his website. Burr’s healthcare bona fides partly stem from his bipartisan effort to ensure adequate funding for the National Institutes of Health, “so that we can find cures for diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and ALS,” according to Burr’s Senate website.

Like Burr, Ross also promises to push for stripping regulations that hinder small business development and she acknowledges that small business is a key driver of economic growth for the United States.

Healthcare is where Burr and Ross part ways. Ross believes that all people should have “access to affordable, quality health care,” and that the “Affordable Care Act did a lot,” to make that happen. Ross believes that Congress and the American people should be focused on fixing the areas where the legislation is weakest, and not focusing on repealing and replacing the legislation. In the North Carolina state house, Ross fought to pass legislation that provided “contraception,” and other health initiatives.

There are other urgent problems facing Obamacare besides rising premiums. Some 17 co-ops have failed, insurance regulators in Tennessee and North Carolina are warning of exchange collapses and health experts are not optimistic about the future of the legislation. It will be interesting to see which option North Carolina voters choose on Election Day 2016.

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