North Dakota congressman is first 2018 GOP Senate contender to attack Social Security


Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, a likely Senate candidate in North Dakota, has promoted a series of odd attacks on the Social Security program that are out of touch with voters in the conservative state.

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) is expected to challenge Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in next year's midterm election. In advance of that matchup, Cramer has publicly taken an extraordinarily hostile position toward the popular Social Security system.

In a radio interview, Cramer argued in favor of "making adjustments" to Social Security for people who are 30, 35, and 40 years old. He later explained in another interview that he disagreed with Trump's proposed budget, despite its massive cuts to social services, and embraced doing more than "just cutting" the program.

Summing up his Social Security approach, Cramer said, "Some people are going to have to sacrifice."

His remarks were not made in a vacuum. As a Republican in Congress, Cramer has been a supporter of privatizing Social Security for nearly 20 years, starting in 1998.

In 2012, Cramer backed putting a portion of Social Security in private accounts, echoing the doomed initiative pushed by former President George W. Bush in 2005.

In 1998, he had a similar position. The Bismarck Tribune reported that October that Cramer had "called for allowing individuals to invest some money they contribute into private accounts, instead of all the money being put into the same pot."

Social Security privatization takes what is a guaranteed pension and lets it ride on the volatile stock market,  generating billions in fees for many of the investment firms that inflated the market leading to the last recession.

Tampering with the Social Security program in this manner has been unpopular and has often dragged down the politicians who have supported it. Even in a conservative state like North Dakota, attacking Social Security is a strange posture for Cramer to take.

But it fits in with his pattern of behavior.

Cramer generated headlines several months ago when he verbally attacked female Democratic members of Congress who wore white to Trump's joint session address. Cramer said they were "poorly dressed" and were wearing "bad-looking white pantsuits." He also accused them of having "a disease" and being "weird."

He also once said school shootings were tied to the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court that legalized abortion, and remarked, "We've normalized perversion and perverted God's natural law."

While supporting cuts to food assistance programs, Cramer cited a Bible verse to back up his position: "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat."

The Social Security attack is another odd statement for voters to consider in South Dakota, and it puts Cramer in a precarious position before he has even filed the papers needed to run.