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Trade and bipartisanship

Topics getting the most attention in the current Senate race between Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., are those that make people mad, according to Cramer.

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Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., talked with The Jamestown Sun editorial board about tariffs and other topics Thursday. John M. Steiner / The Sun
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Topics getting the most attention in the current Senate race between Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., are those that make people mad, according to Cramer.

Cramer is challenging Heitkamp for the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 6 general election.

"Certainly the soybean issue is a loud one," Cramer told The Jamestown Sun editorial board Thursday. "It wasn't anticipated a year ago."

Cramer said there have been victories on the topic of trade and tariffs.

"Clearly, the finishing off of NAFTA 2.0 was a major victory," Cramer said. "Canada and Mexico represent 88 percent of North Dakota's exports. Here we have a more beneficial, reciprocal trade deal with our No. 1 and No. 2 trading partners."

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That deal, also called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA, still requires ratification by all three countries.

"That further isolates China," Cramer said. "China only represents 1 percent of North Dakota's exports, whereas Canada represents 84 percent of North Dakota's exports."

That doesn't mean the Chinese tariffs on soybeans aren't causing problems, he said.

"If you are among the 1 percent, it's the pits," Cramer said. "It centers on soybeans."

The end game for the entire tariff issue is to get China to the negotiating table. He said negotiations could begin in November and he hoped the commodity markets would return to normal in one growing season.

"China has been cheating us for a very long time," he said. "This president is finally taking them on ... In the long run there will be some real advantages, in the meantime it's stressful."

Cramer said he has testified in Congress against the use of tariffs but the president chose to use tariffs to try to bring people to the negotiating table.

"I think the best way to end the trade war quickly is to win it and the best way to win it is to be unified as a country," he said.

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In other areas of discussion, Cramer said the topics of Medicare and Social Security are not popular but need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

"The sooner we do it, the less dramatic the fix will have to be," he said. "If we don't fix it and get to insolvency the only thing left to do is cut benefits."

He said raising the income cap for collection of Social Security taxes could extend the time Social Security remains solvent.

"I think we could even look at raising the (retirement) age a little bit," Cramer said. "You do nothing different for people who are currently on it, and do nothing to people within 10 years of collecting Social Security."

Cramer said there is more bipartisanship in Washington than people realize. He has voted in favor of 180 of the 182 bills introduced by Democrats that have come to the floor for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"That's not very sexy," he said, referring to the attention cooperation attracts. "So all of that should tell you there is a lot more (bipartisanship) that goes on."

He referred to the partisanship represented in some media as drama and sensationalism.

"I think a lot of it is a reflection of the 24-hour news cycle," Cramer said. "I think it is now a reflection of social media."

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