News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Cramer's position in majority good for area

The Nov. 7 elections gave additional power to one of North Alabama's best friends, U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer. Better yet, Rep. Cramer is one of the few in Congress who understood the significance of the vote.

Through seniority — he's held office since 1991 — and energetic membership on several important committees, Rep. Cramer has long been effective in representing the interests of his district, which includes Colbert, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison and part of Morgan counties. The election will increase his power in two respects.

Most obvious, as a senior member of the majority party, Mr. Cramer is likely to bag some important committee chairmanships. He is already on the important House Appropriations Committee. He is the ranking Democrat on both the Subcommittee of Oversight and the Technical and Tactical Intelligence Subcommittee in the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Without question, Mr. Cramer's position in the majority will increase his clout.

At least as important, Rep. Cramer is co-founder of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 37 conservative Democrats. That places him outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party; indeed, many have wondered why he did not long ago switch parties. It is a good thing for North Alabama that he stayed put.

The Democrats' majority in the House is a slim one. In votes along party lines, 37 Blue Dog votes would give the Republicans the upper hand. That means Mr. Cramer and the other coalition members now will have tremendous bargaining power in dealing with Republicans as they scrap for votes.

Those factors mean Mr. Cramer has an even better ability to "bring home the bacon" to North Alabama.

Just as important: Mr. Cramer is one of the few in Congress that gets it.

Most Democrats are purring that the election was a mandate for the Democrat agenda. Most Republicans are saying the election had more to do with the candidates involved in individual races than it did with a mandate.

Mr. Cramer, though, knows better. There was a mandate, he told The Daily, but the mandate is for an end to the partisan bickering that has been the main legacy of the federal government the last several years. Mr. Cramer sees that mandate as applying just as much to the Democrats as to the Republicans, and we agree.

So North Alabama will benefit from Mr. Cramer's renewed clout. The nation will benefit from the fact that a man with clout will be a force for reform.

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