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Dave Olson, Published March 20 2014

Cramer sees constituent time as prime time

FARGO – North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer said Thursday that good government begins and ends with accountability.

That philosophy, he said, fuels the “Coffee With Cramer” town hall gatherings he attends, such as one on Thursday at the Fargo campus of Microsoft, where Cramer told workers he admired the grassroots approach to politics displayed by his favorite president, Abraham Lincoln.

“I do everything I can to stay in touch with people,” Cramer said.

That extends to his staff, which he said is comprised of all North Dakotans.

“They have a sense of the culture,” said Cramer, whose talk touched on a number of issues, including Washington gridlock the future of Medicare and Social Security, and the tumult caused by revelations the National Security Agency spied on Americans.

On the latter, Cramer said he understands the increased need for security following events like 911.

But when balancing security with liberty and privacy, “I’m going to default to liberty and see what happens,” he said.

Cramer said Social Security has perhaps a decade before it runs out of funding, but the time is now to work on ways to prevent that from happening.

“I’m saying, ‘Let’s deal with it today,’ ’’ Cramer said, adding that few lawmakers are willing to even hint at cost-saving steps, such as raising the retirement age, which Cramer said would save a lot of money.

On Washington’s political paralysis, Cramer said one contributing factor was the elimination of earmarks, the term given to legislation that benefits an elected official’s home district.

Cramer said earmarks often became bargaining chips that promoted compromise.

“I think we should have earmarks, but we should debate them in the open,” Cramer said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555