Kristi Noem starts own tour before congressional session

Nick Lowrey

Kristi Noem, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, is running for re-election this year. She came to campus Jan. 26 as part of a tour of South Dakota before the official start of the congressional session. She has spent the last two years in Congress making a name for herself as one of the more conservative members of the House.

In 2006, Noem was elected to the state legislature where she served until she was elected to be South Dakota’s only U.S. representative in 2010. She sat down with The Collegian on Jan. 26 to talk about her position on some of the issues facing the country.

The deficit

According to Noem, the biggest problem facing the country today is the national debt. A debt she says is increased by deficit spending.

“We have a situation that all of the revenue that the federal government generates are eaten up by just our entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” she said. “One out of every three dollars that the federal government spends is borrowed.”

Social Security was paid from payroll taxes until recently when it began to run a deficit of its own. That deficit is paid from interest paid by the federal government on treasury bonds held by the Social Security Trust Fund.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Medicare and Medicaid combined are the largest expenditure of the federal government. These programs pay for the medical care of senior citizens who otherwise can’t attain insurance and those who cannot afford it.

The economy

Noem said the best way to fix the problems arising from the national debt is to improve the economy.

“Our economy is pretty strong here (in South Dakota). I think that all the students would like to know that there is a job out there waiting for them,” she said. “[While] the rest of the country has stagnated, we’ve had the highest sustained unemployment rate since the Great Depression. The best way to address our problems is to get the economy going again.”

The way to get the economy going again, according to Noem, is getting people off of government programs and helping them attain jobs. To get people jobs, she advocates reducing the corporate tax rate and closing loopholes in the tax system.

“If we can fix our tax code and if we can encourage people to come and invest in America again it would stimulate our economy,” Noem said.

A dysfunctional Congress

Noem said the big reason for most of the problems in Congress is a divided government – one party controls the House the other party controls the Senate. If one chamber passes a bill the other doesn’t have to look at it.

“Right now we have two different agendas where people don’t agree and the bills one chamber passes are ignored by the other,” Noem said.

Noem is now trying to put together a group of freshmen Congress-people who will look at some of the congressional rules and try to change them.