Rep. Cravaack believes reform needed

By Cliff Buchan
Forest Lake Times

When Chip Cravaack pulled off one of the major upsets of the 2010 congressional elections, he knew he was in for a big job. One year in, Eighth District Rep. Cravaack says he may have underestimated the seriousness of the situation.

“It’s worse than I truly expected,” Cravaack told a crowd of about 75 at Stars & Strikes Entertainment Center in Wyoming on Thursday, Jan. 26. It was the 20th town hall for the North Branch Republican who unseated 18-term incumbent Jim Oberstar in a shocker.

Congressman Chip Cravaack recently spoke to a small crowd at Stars and Strikes Entertainment Center in Wyoming. Photo by Cliff Buchan

Now Cravaack is preparing to run for reelection in a congressional district for which borders have yet to be set. Later this month, a panel of judges is expected to announce its decision on redistricting.

As Cravaack heads into his second year in office, he says the federal budget and growing national debt are topics that can’t be ignored and must be addressed.

“We all love this country,” he said. “We are all concerned about this country. At the end of the day, we are all Americans. This is an American problem.”

How the nation address the national debt and budget deficit will be critical to the long-term future of the country, he said. The federal government is running a budget deficit this year of $1.26 trillion and has a national debt of $15.2 trillion and both figures are growing.

“This is the cancer that is eating us — the debt,” Cravaack said. And the debt is a threat to national security, the congressman added.

How to Solve?

Cravaack says the only logical solution to the problem is pull back spending and increase the job base to help generate more tax dollars from income earners. He is not a fan of tax increases.

“We can’t tax enough [to solve the problem],” Cravaack said.

And budget danger looms for the future, he said.

The congressman said based on current models, Medicare will be insolvent by 2020 and Social Security will reach the same point by 2037. With an estimated 10,000 “baby boomers” retiring every day, the problem will continue to grow, he said.

Cravaack said  he would protect benefits for those currently 55 or older, but would favor means testing for Medicare eligibility. With costs soaring and the number of people paying in shrinking, costs to services may be needed, he added.

In 1950, for example, Cravaack said there were 159 workers for every Social Security beneficiary. In 2009 the number had dropped to three workers for every person receiving Social Security.

And the federal government has also been guilty of raiding the Social Security Trust Fund to help fund the government.

The revenue side is also complicated by the fact that 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax and that 70 percent of the of the federal income tax revenue comes from the top 10 percent of all wage earners.

Cravaack said he is also worried about the national debt. Some 47 percent of the national debt is held by foreign investors with China cornering 30 percent of the debt.

The congressman said the latter could translate to national security risk as China pumps money into military might. And the staggering debt also paints a dim picture for future generations, he said.

“This is what we are handing out kids,” Cravaack said of the debt.

  • http://[email protected] David Skeldon

    Rep. Cravaack is right when he says “we all love this country”. He’s also right when he says:”this is the cancer that is eating us – the debt”. But he drifts off then into the same old Republican diatribe that the only way out is to bring spending to a halt; especially Republican favorites like spending for social programs. Like all Republicans Cravaack is totally deaf to the idea that deficits and debt can also be alleviated by increasing revenue.
    President Obama has leaned over backward in an attempt to get the Republicans to accept some sort of compromise between spending and new revenue; but no, there is no compromise.
    Federal income taxes rates are the lowest they have been in thirty years. The Bush tax cuts have taken over five trillion dollars from government coffers. Our schools and road and bridges are falling apart; but no, no compromise. …It’s time to wake up.
    Government isn’t free. We have to pay our taxes; rich and poor alike. Cravaack says that 70% of federal income tax comes from the top 10% of wage earners. Well, they also own 90% of the nation’s wealth, why shouldn’t they pay for it? Why should those with the least have to finance government equally with those with the most?
    Cravaack says that 47% of the people pay no taxes. Does he forget regressive taxes like sales taxes and government fees or lump-sum taxes that hurt the poor far more than the wealthy? Does he realize that some of the 47% are retired people with no income, that some are children or non-working family members, that not all people on welfare are cheaters, that some receive it because they honestly qualify and need it?
    Cravaack says that Medicare and Social security are faltering, so he wants to cut back on benefits. Again he forgets that deficits can be mended by increased revenue as well. When I first started working, my FICA deductions were paid by early spring, but then they needed more revenue to keep the program funded, so they raised the rates by increasing the pay-in time. Then I wasn’t done with FICA deductions till fall. Then they raised it again, and again. Finally my deductions were never satisfied during the year. But we overcame deficits back then by paying for them as they came, not by putting it off, or trying to compensate by destroying the value they were intended to have.
    There’s no doubt that there is waste in the government, and that it should be remedied. But there is no need for the mindless, slaughterhouse diplomacy that Cravaack and his party recommend. We have come past that “leave ‘em on the ice to die” attitude; …we are above that. We need to keep our society one that is worth living in. …We need to pay our taxes.
    Dave Skeldon

    • Philip Klocksien

      Regarding the “news” article titled “Rep Cravaack believes reform needed,” in a recent edition of your paper: You must be kidding; or you must have been sleeping that day in journalism class. That ridiculous piece with Cravaack spouting his views is hardly “man-bites-dog” news. It is not news at all. My beef, really, is with your paper. I expect that kind of nonsense from our Republican representative, but I also expect your paper to maintain, at least, minimal journalistic standards.

      If, for example, there had been a demonstration (either for or against) Cravaack at that speaking engagement, then THAT WOULD have been News. If, say, the group to which he was addressing was engaged in doing work for some charity, then that ALSO would have been news. As it is, a Republican politician directing blame for our economic mess away from crooked bankers, warmongers and corporate bloodsuckers is hardly news.

      Tell you what: give me a page to spout my left wing views and that would be equally inappropriate for a news section. If Cravaack wants to use your paper as a vehicle to voice his opinions, let him write a letter to the editor, like any other citizen.

      The Eighth District voter majority got what they wanted- a really poor Tea Bag substitute for Jim Oberstar. Who, by-the-way, did more for Minnesota in 36 years than Chip Cravaack could do in 36 lifetimes. (Google Oberstar, if you don’t believe me).

      I’ll leave you with this image: One of my Eighth District neighbors pulls up in his rusty, ’92 Buick. He’s been out of work since about 2007, his kids can’t afford college, and if they have been lucky, one or two of them have survived being sent overseas to fight in the latest illegal, immoral and unnecessary war. Did I mention this neighbor has just lost his house to foreclosure? Look at that Buick’s rear bumper. There is what remains of a Bush/Cheney sticker still there – leaders of the last regime and the one’s responsible for initiating this whole mess. He voted for Cravaak too and he’ll probably vote for him again. Now, what’s wrong with that picture? Some blue collar guy, like most of us, supporting the agendas of millionaires.