Our Voice: Noem votes against best interests of South Dakota, nation

Farm Forum

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., has talked herself into a problem.

She has caught herself between pleas for relief for West River ranchers who lost thousands of cattle and tea party conservatives who want to limit government no matter the cost — even at the expense of relief for ranchers, such as the ones Noem represents.

It has truly brought the hypocrisy of the tea party and its sycophants to light.

On Wednesday, Noem was the only member of South Dakota’s congressional delegation to vote “no” on the agreement to reopen the government and raise the country’s borrowing limit. That measure passed 285-144 in the U.S. House.

When Noem could choose — voting for the best interests of South Dakota and the nation, or staying in the good graces of the fringe conservative movement — she voted with the latter.

She should feel the political cost.

Noem tried to have it both ways.

In a statement, she said reopening the government and avoiding a national default were good things.

“However, I could not support this bill because it didn’t do anything to address our continued deficit spending, which has resulted in a $17 trillion debt.”

Glad government is up and running. But voted against it.

So, with the federal government back — for now — ranchers could see some support. And Noem didn’t have to vote for it, meaning her name stays on the short list of ultraconservatives such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who remain darlings of the anti-government movement.

A better “prepared statement” for Noem would have been, “It is against my wishes that the federal government go back to work. However, I am only one person. It is in the best interests of the people of South Dakota — including the ranchers in need of help — that I vote to reopen government.”

Maybe she thought no one would notice the discrepancy?

A devastating Washington Post column about Noem’s predicament circulated around the Internet on Wednesday.

Former U.S. Treasury economist Joann Weiner wrote, “(Noem is) part of a group of House Republicans who in September refused to fund the federal government unless the Democrats agreed either to defund or delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act. … Days later, the blizzard hit South Dakota. Now, Noem would like the federal government to increase its spending.”

Weiner noted that Noem also voted against providing federal disaster assistance to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

“It appears that Noem is against federal spending until she’s for it,” Weiner wrote.

There are a lot of “vote all the bums out!” comments on Facebook, Twitter and in the media after the shutdown debacle.

Mark this one down: When she had a chance to vote to restart government, avoid a devastating financial crisis and support her constituents, she said no.

Noem chose to side with the political vultures and voted to bring her country to the brink of economic disaster.

Will South Dakota, 12 months from now, remember Noem’s choice?

— American News editorial board