02/12/18 • UPDATE

Cramer can no longer claim to be fiscally responsible

For the third time since Rep. Kevin Cramer was elected to the House of Representatives, he and his colleagues shut down the federal government. Agencies were shuttered, public employees didn't know whether they'd have a job and families were cast into uncertainty through no fault of their own. Whether for a few hours or a few days, Cramer once again failed to fulfill his most basic responsibility as our Congressman.

Few American families would be able to survive if they operated like Congress. As North Dakotans sit around the kitchen table to work on household finances, it's not too much to ask the government to simply pass a budget and live within its means.

Today's Republican party, which controls the House, Senate and White House, loves to claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility. Yet they just passed one of the largest deficit- and debt-increasing budget bills in our nation's history.

In fact, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — a conservative-leaning non-partisan organization — the recent GOP budget will grow the deficit to more than $2 trillion per year within a decade. The CRFB projects that, thanks to this bill together with the massive corporate tax cuts enacted last December, the deficit will exceed $1.2 trillion next year alone, nearly double the $666 billion annual deficit when the president took office last year. Our government will soon be in the red by more than $3,700 per American citizen.

Cramer has irresponsibly voted to explode our nation's debt and now, to balance the nation's books, he and congressional Republicans have their sights set on massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security. We can't allow the federal budget to be balanced on the backs of our seniors.

These critical programs are a promise that seniors have paid into over a lifetime of hard work. We have an obligation to protect these lifelines for everyone who relies upon them — from seniors to the most vulnerable among us to the communities in which they live. And it speaks volumes that Cramer won't pledge to protect these earned benefits.

After supporting massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and after supporting this latest budget, Cramer can no longer claim, with a straight face, to be fiscally responsible. He can no longer claim to care about budget deficits and debt. And until he pledges to not fix his mistakes by cutting Medicare and Social Security, he can no longer claim to truly represent North Dakota's interests.

It should not be too much to expect that when we as citizens elect a member of Congress, they actually represent our values and ambitions rather than the special interests that fund their campaigns. At the same time, our elected leaders must do the bare minimum job requirement — keep the government's doors open to conduct the people's business, pass a budget and balance it fairly. Kevin Cramer has failed three times on all three accounts. We deserve better.

Hanson is a Democrat running for the U.S. House of Representatives.

This Letter to the Editor by Ben Hanson originally appeared on Inforum.

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