SDPB gave Kristi Noem a tax-deadline platform yesterday to throw her sour grapes at the government she’s supposed to be helping to run. Noem recycled a line she used in a February 17, 2015 town hall meeting in Sioux Falls:
Noem started her town hall by explaining her reasons for taking a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee. After Congress passed a new Farm Bill last year, Noem said she felt that agriculture policy would be slower for the foreseeable future, so she jumped to the new committee. She said she’s hopeful the committee can help encourage trade agreements that open more markets to South Dakota products, and she said that job growth lies in opening overseas markets.The committee also will serve as a catalyst for tax reform, she said.
“The tax code is seven times longer than the Bible and it has none of the good news,” she said [Jonathan Ellis, “Noem Wants Tougher GOP Senate,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.02.17].
Rep. Noem has a little trouble keeping her folksy-isms straight. Check out her weekly propaganda piece from December 31, 2014:
First, I will work to update and simplify the tax code, which hasn’t been done since gas cost less than 90 cents a gallon. Over the last 25-plus years, special interest groups have manipulated the tax code time and again, carving out so many loopholes that we now have a 73,954-page-long tax code. As a friend of mine says, that’s 10 times longer than the Bible with none of the Good News! [Rep. Kristi Noem, press release, 2014.12.31]
Evidently the tax code has shrunk 30% this year. Hooray!
Noem actually borrows this old saw from former Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles, who carved out the 10-times claim and the “Good News” punchline in 1997. The saw is slightly dull, since an actual comparison with the King James Bible finds the 2014 IRS code 5.07 times longer.
But more important than checking Noem’s out-of-her-raggedy-baseball-cap numbers is knocking down her glib fundie-winking dismissal of the entire tax code. There’s plenty of good news in the tax code, such as…
- The standard deduction, $6,200 per person of income that Uncle Sam doesn’t tax.
- The personal exemption, another $3,950 of your income left untouched by the feds.
- Pause, Kristi: if you and Bryon are still claiming your college girls, then your five-person family gets the first $24,250 of your 2014 income tax-free. For a family that has relied on government assistance for so much other income, I suppose this freebie is small potatoes, but it’s still good news.
- The child tax credit, which knocks $1,000 off your taxes for every child you are raising. If you owe Uncle Sam $2,500 but you have three qualifying children, not only do you owe no tax, but the IRS will send you the $500 difference. That’s good news!
- The earned income tax credit, which rewards millions of low-income taxpayers for going to work and drawing a paycheck. In 2014, 28 million Americans got an average EITC of $2,407. That $66 billion dollars of economic stimulus lifted 6.5 million people, including 3.3 million children out of poverty. That’s great news!
- The mortgage interest deduction, which means you aren’t taxed on the money you spend paying off your American Dream. That’s good news at the bank!
- The self-employed business deduction, which means you aren’t taxed on all the money you spend trying to build your own business. That’s good news for any entrepreneur!
- The tax filing extension, which lets any American apply for a six-month extension of time to file his or her tax return at no extra cost.
We can dig through that complicated tax code for other bits of good news for various Americans. We can find plenty of bad, too, like the corporate welfare that busts our budget or the exemption of income above $118,500 from Social Security tax that leaves our common retirement in more peril than it need be. But please, Kristi, don’t come trotting out your glib oversimplifications. They just aren’t true.