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VIDEO: Cramer: Raising retirement age now will prevent 25 percent cut in Social Security

FARGO - U.S. Rep Kevin Cramer is not afraid to talk about topics he says usually get politicians kicked out of office, like gun control or fixing Social Security.

Coffee with Cramer
U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer holds a Coffee with Cramer event Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2013, at Babb's Coffee House, 604 Main Ave. in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO - U.S. Rep Kevin Cramer is not afraid to talk about topics he says usually get politicians kicked out of office, like gun control or fixing Social Security.

The first-term North Dakota Republican said as much Wednesday, fielding questions about flood insurance, the debt ceiling, immigration reform, gun control and Social Security reform at a town hall event at Babb's Coffee House in downtown Fargo.

Cramer said small fixes made now to the Social Security program now - like raising the retirement age by small amounts over a five or six years - can save the country from making major changes in a future crisis.

"We are not talking about current Social Security recipients like my parents," Cramer said. "But if we don't deal with the issue going forward, we will wake up one day and the only solution will be a 25 percent cut in benefits. That we cannot do. That is irresponsible."

South Fargo resident Mara Solberg said afterward she thinks Cramer and others in Congress have used Social Security as a "bargaining chip" in a political game. She's concerned about those who rely 100 percent on Social Security for their income.


"They would like someone in Congress who thinks of them and takes care of them," Solberg said.

On gun control, one audience member pointed to the recent shootings at LAX airport and another in a New Jersey mall, and said he believes a majority of North Dakotans support stiffer background checks.

Cramer said right now is a "very difficult time to get anything more restrictive (passed) in Congress" in relation to gun control and that he believes there are laws on the books already that aren't being enforced to their fullest extent.

"I think we need to take a hard look at the enforcement of current laws to see if they're adequate if we in fact enforce them to the degree that they ought to be enforced," he said.

Another audience member asked Cramer how he could support lowering the country's debt, while also backing recent legislation which delays a solvency plan for the National Flood Insurance Program, which relies heavily on subsidies.

Cramer said last year's flood insurance overhaul had "unintended consequences" that would mean dramatic premium increases for Fargo homeowners in the flood plain. He wants to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on figuring out a better way to make the program financially stable.

Cramer, along with North Dakota's senators, John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, has supported legislation to delay flood insurance premium increases for four years until FEMA can finish an affordability study.

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