State Rep. Paula Hawks has U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem playing defense. In response to the Democratic U.S. House candidate’s criticism of her abdication from the House Agriculture Committee, our incumbent Congresswoman has been insisting at every stop on her recess tour that her work on House Ways and Means is much more important.
In Watertown last week, Rep. Noem asserted that “all of the ag organizations in the state advocated and supported me getting on the Ways and Means Committee”:
“It was a decision we talked about extensively with them before I worked to get on the committee. The Ways and Means Committee impacts taxes, trade and the regulatory environment that our ag producers live with every day. So I always want to be where I can get the most good done, and that’s the Ways and Means Committee.”
Hawks questioned that, saying it was “just false.”
“When I speak with Ag industry leaders, organizations and members, losing our seat on the Ag Committee is the first issue they bring up,” she said. “It just doesn’t make any sense. You can’t stand up for South Dakota if you don’t even have a seat at the table where the most important decisions are being made for your No. 1 industry” [Roger Whittle, “Rep. Kristi Noem Disputes Claims Made by Challenger Paula Hawks,” Watertown Public Opinion, 2016.08.11].
Rep. Noem repeated in Huron that her Ways and Means work is more important than service on Agriculture:
Noem said she asked to be appointed to the House Ways and Means Committee because 80 percent of everything that’s considered in the House goes through that committee.
Tax and trade policy and the entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all considered by members of the Ways and Means Committee.
“I really wanted to be where the work was,” Noem said. “I wanted to be able to influence tax policy, which is one of the biggest drags on the economy and why so many companies are leaving the country” [Roger Larsen, “Air Service, Postal Facility and Other Concerns Expressed to Rep. Noem,” Huron Plainsman, 2016.08.15].
Rep. Noem repeated that message yesterday here in Aberdeen, saying she switched committees because she’s all about taxes and trade:
As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, Noem spoke about tax and trade policies, both of which she said need to be reformed.
The Ways and Means Committee, she said, is often referred to as the oldest committee in Congress as it was the first one established. And some people refer to it as the most powerful committee because it has jurisdiction over tax policy, trade policy, health care issues and mroe.
South Dakota has never had a person on the committee, she said.
“I decided that if I was going to be there and be away from my state and my family, I wanted to be where I could have the biggest impact,” Noem said. “When you come from an agricultural state like South Dakota does, (tax and trade) issues are huge” [Victoria Lusk, “Noem Focuses on Tax, Trade Policy During Luncheon,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.08.17].
Rep. Noem bragged yesterday that House Ways and Means had posted a blueprint for tax reform before leaving for its August recess (which started July 14). That Republican plan hasn’t received a committee vote yet. Scored straight, it would cost $2.4 trillion; even if we buy GOP magic math and assume their tax cuts generate GDP growth (a shaky assumption, says Kansas), that tax blueprint still puts us $191 billion in the hole. Dang—Kristi Noem does tax policy the way she did farming: losing money and hoping someone fills the deficit for her.
Whatever Rep. Noem thinks she’s achieving on House Ways and Means, it isn’t much: contrary to GOP puffery, the Republican-controlled Congress persists in historically low productivity. And while Rep. Noem touts her busywork, she ignores the substance of Rep. Hawks’s critique, that Noem’s abdication from House Agriculture leaves important agriculture programs like CRP languishing.