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Noem Claims South Dakota Didn’t Take Elevated Unemployment Benefits During Pandemic

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.

Kristi Noem—The Phony Express
Kristi Noem—The Phony Express


  1. Eve Fisher 2022-07-29 09:10

    That’s our Governor in action.
    BTW, she was “accompanied by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, apparently working for her again after a brief hiatus” where she also spoke about abortion and gay marriage:
    “On Thursday she said she had no objections to women traveling out of state to get an abortion elsewhere. “I don’t know of any legislators that are seriously pursuing that and I’m certainly not. And to be clear, even in South Dakota, if they were to get an abortion, even though the law doesn’t allow it, a woman would never be prosecuted. It would be the doctor that facilitated it and knowingly broke the law and not the women.”
    But Noem gave little solace to those who fear the supreme court’s rightwing majority could next go after the right to same-sex marriage. “I’ve never supported gay marriage as far as the legality of it in our state. For me, a lot of my faith has to do with that and the legal documentation of that. But I do know that a lot of people are still continuing to have those discussions.”

    She’s still not going to be President.

  2. Ryan 2022-07-29 09:11

    sounds like her figurative pants are on fire from all the lying… and her literal pants are on fire from all the venereal disease earned while lying down.

  3. Bob Newland 2022-07-29 09:20

    I once told a lie, or should I say, it once told me. It wasn’t that big, but then there were three. They grew to nine. Even that was fine, but I drew a line. No more than twelve, ‘cuz reporters will delve. Then I went big, ‘cuz I am a pig. Now no one cares, ‘cuz I have the hairs.

  4. O 2022-07-29 09:26

    . . . and how did SD’s refusal to pass on those benefits affect workers and their families? How did it affect child poverty? Yet another reminder that business is the one-and-only concern. The economy (defined as the success of business) is the only concern.

    Be it the election of Governor Noem or support for any corporate shill, as long as the majority is willing to vote against its own interests and support the interests of the corporation/owner class, we cannot expect anything to get better.

  5. Guy 2022-07-29 10:28

    O, well I’m not giving up as long as I’m breathing, I’m finding ways to support those who support most of us. There is coming a time when the corporation/owner class will find themselves out of power. This Gen Xer is looking toward leadership and a growing movement from Millennials and Gen Z. These 2 generations could very well CHANGE THINGS and I will be right there to support them.

  6. mike from iowa 2022-07-29 11:26

    So, Noem’s a liar. Who knew? Who could’ve have known?

  7. Jenny 2022-07-29 13:18

    Just go online and one can look up all the covid welfare money big farmers and ranchers got in SD that they didn’t really need (ppp loans that one doesnt have to pay back)

    Yes, same old lie red states want everyone to believe, that they make out fine without givernment help.
    I always wonder why more SD farmers and ranchers aren’t democrats with all the government help they get.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-29 13:38

    Well, O, in Kristi’s world, as expressed on her lazy, sloppy, illogical recall of the points Corey and Ian coach her to make, the impact of that refusal was that everybody’s working now. That claim is of course false: South Dakota still has unemployment. The unemployment rate is really low, but it has fallen back to the lows we expect in South Dakota, and likely would have returned to those normal rates with or without Kristi’s refusal of those later extra pandemic unemployment benefits. She has no empirical data to back up her causal claim of nothing but good results. She completely ignores the economic pain, family difficulties, and health risks she caused by refusing those later benefits before the pandemic was done.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-29 13:41

    Yes, Jenny: Paycheck Protection Plan, pandemic farm relief, everything else in CARES and ARPA that South Dakota gladly accepted: How come all that pandemic aid didn’t discourage people from working? Why does Kristi get to take billions in federal assistance for South Dakota, including 88 million of unemployment benefits that she just said she didn’t take, and claim that the state economy she’s so proud of is a result of her wise management and not a product of federal subsidy? why does she get to claim that South Dakota is a role model for success standing in contrast to an allegedly failing federal government when South Dakota’s success has actually depended more on federal support than the economic success of other states?

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-29 13:44

    And let’s not forget the direct point here: why does Kristi Noem get to lie straight-faced about supposedly refusing coronavirus unemployment benefits?

  11. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-29 16:16

    Cory–Why does Kristi Noem get to lie straight faced about supposedly refusing coronavirus unemployment benefits?? Because She can. South Dakotans have a very short attention span and don’t discriminate between “Republican Truth” and out right balderdash. If one questions the veracity of our Governor, a Republican in good standing is likely to respond with “What about Hunter Biden??” Ye gads!! Hunter Biden put 8 million dollars up his nose. What does that have to do with Governor Noem knowing truth from fiction??? Governor Noem’s strength is that she understands her audience, and gives them flashing lights and loud noises. We can only hope, that like fireworks, she has a short shelf life.

  12. grudznick 2022-07-29 17:20

    That’s silly. How could Mr. Biden, the younger, stuff $8,000,000 up his nostrils. Don’t be facetious.

    In South Dakota’s economy, widely acknowledged as being The Best, you should invest your dollars. Maybe in property. Become a landlord. Or a farmer.

  13. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-29 18:08

    Grudz–Hunter Biden somehow parlayed a position on various Boards of Directors in Ukraine to have 6 to 8 million dollars flow through his hands and now, as he sits in residential drug treatment, has nothing to show for it. Cocaine is suspected and a logical conclusion. He should have come to South Dakota and become a land lord like the Hell’s Angels and Banditos but drug addicts aren’t known for planning ahead. Again, this has nothing to do with Governor Noem’s compulsive lying.

  14. Richard Schriever 2022-07-29 18:17

    grudz “… should invest your dollars. Maybe in property.” Ah yes, profiting from inflation is your answer to what ails all – right?

  15. O 2022-07-29 19:08

    grudznick, you again demonstrate your limited perspective of only looking from the corporate/owner/.1% perspective of your similarly limited GOP. What is the argument for a WORKER to stay or move to SD? Being exploited, even abused, to perpetuate a political bragging point for others cannot be a pathway to any kind of long-term success for this state (or your party). At some tipping point your cult of personality of white Christian Nationalists will run out of the fodder, the workforce, that allows its machinery to mine the wealth of this nation.

  16. P. Aitch 2022-07-29 21:09

    SD’s low unemployment rate is mitigated by the low wages being paid. Bottom line is that if SD’s economy is booming why aren’t big, successful businesses fighting for commercial real estate? Remember every communist government has near zero unemployment. They just give everyone a shovel.

  17. jakc 2022-07-29 23:08

    The low unemployment rate in SD is easy to understand. People leave if they don’t have a job

  18. RST Tribal Member 2022-07-30 06:33

    Campaigning out of state. Yep the lying, cheating, no good candidate is confident that the certain group of voters will fall for the ads about the ranch/farm and how she is riding all over South Dakota on a horse as governor trying to govern… maybe that is why she doesn’t show up in many local places with outsider faces.

    Best economy? Tourists on the west side. Dirty criminal money on the east side. Big government in the middle. All supported by federal assistance in the various sectors of the state’s economy. South Dakota has a good economy waiting to be made better. Maybe in November of 2022.

    She thinks she is a boot in and don’t want to mess up her chances by saying something stupid locally. Be stupid or heartless in Nevada, Texas, Florida or anywhere but in the state she was elected to govern. Should the lies get reported she just claims fake news. Since many of the South Dakota republicans are inept and inbreeds a flash and loud boom fill them with pleasure and excitement as they stumble to the voting booth electing people who don’t represent their interests or needs.

    Is there a deadline to spend all the CARE and ARAP funds? Holding for that day is the plan that might get changed in November of 2022. We’ll see.

  19. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-30 07:32

    What PAitch said. If we had the best economy, the best businesses would be moving here. If we had the best economy, we’d have a little high unemployment, because we’d have more people moving here to work than just those wild-eyed retirees looking to dodge taxes and play out their cowgirl-as-governor fantasies.

    But even the states with the best economies needed extended unemployment benefits to get through the pandemic. South Dakota took those benefits right along with every other state. We need to watch for Kristi to tell this lie again and beat her up with facts every time she does it.

  20. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-31 18:09

    Well..I once supervised an employee who grew up in Poland, was educated there under the Communists and went to work as a draftsman in the State Architect’s office. He told me,”There were three guys for every job on every shift. We were draftsmen but everything built was from a cookie cutter design, very shabby, We took turns working the shift. One worked, the other two came in late, played cards, and left after lunch. Nobody got in any trouble unless they complained. We used to say about the Communists, “We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us. ”

    He had a great deal of trouble adjusting his work ethic in South Dakota, as he thought he was still grossly underpaid and was expected to do too much for the money he made. (He may have had a point, but, you know, it was South Dakota. No more explanation necessary). We let him go. In a stroke of luck, as he could speak Russian, German, Polish, French and Romanian as well as English, and had served honorably in the US Army “(I joined to practice my English.)” he was hired by “the government” to monitor telephone conversations of, as he described it, “targets”. He said he was paid very well, and there were several “interpreters” at work at all times, with plenty of down time. He found a job he could “niche” into. He was a federal employee in California. Nuff said.

  21. WillyNilly 2022-07-31 18:50

    Hmmm… that’s a handsome horse that Kristi rides in the ad… wonder if she ever heard the old saying from show biz about working with kids and animals? The horse sure takes the focus from her words and deeds… for a minute. Too bad she’s in the ad at all.

  22. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-07-31 19:25

    Who knows if that’s really Kristi Lynn flogging that horse?

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