HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- "As a person who's been very active in Washington, D.C. even now--I'm an observer--and I'm troubled by what I see."
That from Bud Cramer who retired from service in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008, after 18 years representing Alabama's 5th District. During that time he served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Science Committee, the Appropriations Committee, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Cramer served on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, the Transportation Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, the Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee and the Science, Commerce, Justice and State Appropriations Subcommittee.
That lofty preface is needed to highlight the fact that this is not the first time former congressman Cramer has witnessed important dealings in Washington come down to the wire. The looming fiscal cliff deadline, though Cramer described Thursday as one of the most dire. From tax cuts to sequestration to the debt ceiling Cramer says there are a combination of unsettled issues pertinent to North Alabama--an area with so much connection and interest in federal budgets.
"You've got defense contractors, NASA contractors even some intelligence contractors," says Cramer. "But just in general across the board we've got healthcare and transportation spending and it's just making everyone extremely uptight and affecting the economy."
Cramer acknowledges the misperception that if you do not have a government job you do not have anything to worry about. "You do," says Cramer. He says with tax cuts potentially expiring the residual effects could be felt by a great many number of Americans. But locally, he says, Huntsville and North Alabama have a proven track record of remaining elastic and resilient no matter what happens in our nation's capitol.
"We are a community that has survived a lot of ups and downs from either negligence or inactivity or delayed activity in Washington--we've had threatened government shutdowns and that sort of thing--so I think we'll come out of this okay but i spent eighteen years as a participant there and I thought I'd seen a few tough issues come right down to the wire but I believe this is tough as much because of the hyper-partisanship in Washington."
Cramer says he has even been approached recently by colleague still serving in congress for his input on the fiscal cliff dealings. He says his advice has been simple, transparent and unbiased.
"You've got to give and take," says Cramer, "you got to look at this not through the limited lens of what you think a few people want you to do but what is in the best interest of the country."