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Bob Valeu, Published September 26 2013

Letter: Cramer fails farmers, children and ND values

Any person over the age of 60 will remember when Desi always told Lucy that she had some “ ’splainin’ to do.” Well, Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., has some serious explaining to do about his failure to produce a long-term farm bill and his recent vote to cut $40 billion in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Cramer wasted no time in spinning his vote. If Cramer worked as hard for his constituents as he does at political spinning, North Dakotans would be well served by our only congressman. We’re not.

SNAP is the most successful anti-hunger and anti-poverty program in U.S. history. In 2011, almost 5 million Americans were lifted out of poverty by SNAP. Republican Bob Dole and Democrat George McGovern originally founded the now 40-year old program and, up until now, SNAP has enjoyed strong bipartisan support and has always been included in each farm bill as it successfully ties urban interests with rural interests. All that changed when Cramer and his extremist ilk were elected to the U.S. House last year.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, about 76 percent of all SNAP assistance goes to households with children, the elderly and the disabled, many of whom are disabled veterans. To be exact, that’s 8.9 million households with children, 2.9 million households with seniors,

3.6 million households with a disabled person, and approximately 1 million veterans.

Cramer’s vote will knock nearly 4 million out of the program by next year, including 170,000 veterans. Cramer defends his vote by using tired old rhetoric about cheaters and working for what you get. Cramer hides behind a quote from North Dakota’s adopted son Teddy Roosevelt to justify his vote. Yet Cramer conveniently leaves out the fact that 30 percent of SNAP recipients work, with more than 8 in 10 working in the year after receiving SNAP.

North Dakota Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven led a bipartisan effort to pass the farm bill in the U.S. Senate. That bill is now dying in the U.S. House.

North Dakota has only one congressman and one of his primary responsibilities is to deliver a long-term farm bill for North Dakota’s producers. Rather than leading, Cramer puts his own extremist views ahead of our farmers, ranchers, children and seniors.

North Dakotans saw in the last legislative session how damaging extremist politics can be and how radical the Republican supermajority in the state Legislature has become. Now we know we have another extremist as our only congressman.

Finally, on a personal note, what makes Cramer’s vote all the more galling to me is that he regularly invokes his Christian faith. As a Christian myself, I must say that I find Cramer’s vote to cut food assistance to children, the elderly, the disabled – the least among us – to be in direct contradiction to his rhetoric. It does little good to speak of God if you fail the basic test of caring for God’s children.

North Dakotans are better than that. Too bad our state’s only congressman isn’t.


Valeu is chairman of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party.