Candidate Kristi Noem rode her Phony Express to Washington, D.C., yesterday to bore some young brownshirts and promote her book on national fascist TV. In her Newsmax conversation with Greta Van Susteren, Noem repeated her much-debunked lie that South Dakota has “the best economy in the country” (ah, now she shifts from strongest to best—is this another word game to dodge speaking of actual numbers that challenge her false superlative). But she also manufactured a new lie for her easily distracted national audience:
You know, during the pandemic, we were the only state that did not take those elevated unemployment benefits, and now everybody’s working [Gov. Kristi Noem, transcribed from interview with Greta Van Susteren, Newsmax, Washington, D.C., 2022.07.28, timestamp 5:00].
South Dakota took those elevated unemployment benefits during the pandemic. We were one of the states that made a show of ending that assistance early (although 12 states stopped suckling that teat before we did). We turned down the federal Lost Wages Assistance and Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation in fall 2020. But for over a year, South Dakota accepted and distributed Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. In Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021, South Dakota took nearly $88.7 million in elevated unemployment benefits from Uncle Sam to support our “Re-employment Insurance Fund”. South Dakota also accepted federal funding in the American Rescue Plan Act to “increase[…] the reimbursement rate from 50% to 75% for the amounts of compensation paid for weeks of unemployment beginning with the week ending April 10, 2021, and ending with week ending Sept. 4, 2021.”
South Dakota took federal unemployment assistance to survive the pandemic, just like everyone else. Kristi Noem’s straight-faced claim the contrary on national TV is flatly phony.