A few minutes with Congresswoman Kristi Noem

If you recall when I was out in our nation’s Capital a week or so ago now, I had attempted to visit with Congresswoman Kristi Noem as my first stop, but the weather interfered.  I was three hours late flying in, and Kristi was 12 hours late flying out (Luckily, none of us met the same fate as others flying United), and I was unable to catch up with her.  However, her Deputy Chief of Staff/ Communications Director offered to try to put us together in-state before she headed back.

This morning, I was fortunate enough to catch Congresswoman Noem for coffee in-between stops on what seemed like a frenetic run up and down I-29 today, where she was flanked by her chief of staff and long-time confidante Beth Hollatz. (I brought my #4 Daughter Sydney, because I think it’s a good thing for her to see that she could be in Congress or higher someday herself).

Kristi had been in Sioux Falls, had meetings in Brookings, another in Watertown after our discussion, hoped to catch a bit of her son Booker’s sports activities, and was then back to Brookings for tonight’s Lincoln Day Dinner  (Whew!)

Since her time was limited, I jumped right in asking about what was currently going on for work with the Ways and Means Committee, the panel which Congresswoman Noem was appointed to by Speaker Paul Ryan with her most recent term of office.

Kristi noted that much of the current workload of the Ways and Means committee was working on the tax credit portion of the health care bill, with various parties and areas of interest all weighing in, such as the Speaker Ryan, the White House, the Freedom Caucus as well as “the Tuesday Group” of Congress.

Kristi stated that “the White House is concerned with Tax Reform first, but Congress wants Obamacare first.” Much like Senator Thune had noted when I spoke with him, Kristi reiterated that it’s important that the work with Obamacare be completed prior to broad tax reform, as it affects two trillion in budget dollars.  If it can be resolved, then there’s a hope that tax reform can be close to being revenue neutral.

It’s not a leap of faith to say that taxes are a big topic of discussion in Washington and the Congresswoman remarked that we need to become more competitive on a worldwide basis, as One of the challenges we face is that America has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.

She also highlighted the balancing act the committee must do, as “the Ways and Means committee are looking at lowering rates down to 20% for corporations and 25% for small business… but the White House is talking about pushing it down even further,” which opens up questions about pushing rates down past what’s necessary to pay for the Government we currently have. Congresswoman Noem pointed out that we “can’t afford only to pick around the edges on tax reform, but we still have to keep government funded.”

Kristi noted that this White House is aggressive when it comes to tax reductions, putting everything on the table, and even mentioning an across the board flat tax as one possible proposal.

Congresswoman Noem reflected that while it may seem like there’s a charged atmosphere in Washington these days, she find that these are “exciting times.. and better now than back when she started, with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in charge.”

With time running short, I did make a point to ask her about her campaign for the Republican nomination for Governor where she’s set to face Attorney General Marty Jackley, as well as potential others, and she seems to be enjoying the campaign trail. She remarked that “with primaries, you’re running against a person who you agree with 80-90% of the time, and you’re trying to draw a difference based on those few items of disagreement, as well as the difference in backgrounds.”

It’s clear Congresswoman Noem is passionate about her work, and it’s demonstrated by her commitment to South Dakota, and her ability to deliver for the state on such important things such as the Farm Bill, as well as a myriad of other successes.

The challenge now is translating that into a successful campaign for Governor in 2018.