Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: The Poverty Problem

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014The Poverty Problem
By Rep. Kristi Noem

The poverty problem in our country – in our own state – breaks my heart.  It’s more than a lack of cash flow.  It’s a deficiency of opportunity, of hope.  It’s a seemingly inescapable reality for many that is time and again passed down from generation to generation.  And the programs put in place to help often perpetuate the problem.

In the last seven years, the cycle of poverty has not only continued, it’s accelerated.  Since President Obama took office, around six million more Americans have slipped into poverty.

The path to upward mobility for these individuals and families is lined with obstacles.  We have to help break down those barriers.  As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and as a representative of a state that includes some of the most impoverished counties in the country, I am working to move forward real solutions that restore opportunity and address the root causes of poverty.

That agenda begins with recognizing the best path out of poverty goes through the workplace.  Today’s federal programs can help to avoid crisis, but they fail to equip low-income individuals with the tools needed to move up the economic ladder.

There are very few people in this world who want to stay on federal programs their whole life.  They want to achieve their dreams.  Our system, then, should be focused on getting people back to work, out there searching for a job, or into a training program that will help them launch a career if they are to receive benefits.

But right now, the federal government often disincentives work, and by doing that, it can trap people in poverty.  The government has set up cliffs where it can make less financial sense to get a job or accept a promotion than to stay on federal programs.  That’s wrong.  The incentives system needs to be realigned.

This means we must also redefine “success” when it comes to welfare policy.  For decades, success has been defined by increasing enrollment numbers and the dollars spent. It should be defined instead by whether or not the programs are producing meaningful outcomes.

None of this can be accomplished, however, without also improving the integrity of our welfare system. It is wrought with fraud, waste, and abuse.  Today, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – or TANF – is the predominant federal program used to support low-income individuals and transition them into the workforce. Loopholes have diluted the program’s effectiveness.  Some states have been allowed to manipulate their numbers in order to get taxpayer money without helping people find jobs. South Dakota doesn’t allow for this kind of manipulation and I’d like to see our way of doing things carried out nationwide.  I’ve introduced legislation to close this loophole and am actively working to ensure it advances through the legislative process.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan often says: “The condition of your birth should not determine the outcome of your life.  This is who we are as a nation.”  I agree, but many – including thousands in our state – don’t see how that could be true for them.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Commerce Department announced South Dakota’s economy grew by an astounding 9.2 percent in the third quarter of 2015 – the largest rate of growth in the nation.  That compares to just 1.9 percent growth during that same period nationwide.  Still, the poorest county in the country is in South Dakota.  These families deserve a solution and I’m committed to offering one that produces more accountability and better efficiency to protect what Middle Class Americans have earned, while also generating greater financial independence and a path to upward mobility for those who need it most. This must be a priority.


15 Replies to “Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: The Poverty Problem”

  1. MC

    Congresswoman Kristi Noem makes some great points.

    We also need to work at the state and local levels. At the State level we should work on our infrastructure. Things like roads, railroads, power grid, telecommunications, etc. This is also includes schools, medical, and park systems. We need to work on the evenly, not just concentrate on schools and roads, but the entire system. Having a great infrastructure will help businesses start up and relocate here. These businesses bring jobs at all levels.

    At the local level, several charities are already working to serve the impoverished some of them are faith based others are not. Local Governments should be working with these charities, coordinating resources, making sure everyone’s basic needs are being meet.

  2. What

    Ok so lots of jobs pay ten bucks an hour lets raise the minimum wage. to twelve and get people off the food stamps.I know people working for 400 a week and living on assistance With food stamps,Pretty bad here when there working hard and never get ahead.Maybe Noem could put a bill to eliminate pensions and only go on social security show us that you care.

  3. Sewing Ladies

    Let me first begin by saying how much our group loves Rep. Noem, and she is such a charmer when she visits our sewing circles. We just adore her common sense attitude and we could not agree more when Ms. Noem says politics is black and white, and those who follow the Lord will always do right. We wholeheartedly agree. That’s why we agree that the poor are a problem…..and we have to do something about them. Slow witted, inebriates, lost to the Lord. Those who are poor by choice should be labeled by Trump accordingly and run out. Those who are genetically poor, well, we should build facilities to help them out. While we believe Rep. Noem is on the right track, we need something a bit more stringent, a bit more radical, a bit more final. However we must and should move incrementally. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Anyway, God Bless you Kristi and God Bless the United States of America!

  4. Troy Jones


    Linking poverty and farm subsidies as you did has innuendo that is grossly false.

    If you disagree with the federal governments farm programs, I get that. However, without the farm program, food would be significantly more expensive, have the most adverse impact on the poor, and our nation’s food surplus would not be available to feed the starving in the Third World.

    You really shouldn’t allow your hatred of Noem supersede rational thought. It serves no purpose for yourself or anyone else.

    1. Anonymous

      Troy, you’re expecting What to use logic and common sense when he/she/it posts; that is too much to ask. The poor in this country are still a lot better off than the average person in a lot of countries; to What, poor means they don’t have full cable and their cell phone doesn’t have unlimited talk/text/data.

      What needs to realize that everyone in this country isn’t going to be able to go to Disney World for vacations and have lobster for dinner.

      1. Anonymous

        The crops that federal farm subsidies subsidize are not generally those foods found on a dinner table.

        A small % of corn is consumed by the consumer–most goes into feeding chickens, swine, cattle, and into ethanol production. While this protein is important, other (cheaper sources) are available.

        Corn is but one example.

        In fact, if corn, wheat, & cotton were NOT subsidized, other CHEAPER sources of these feeds & inputs would be available, such as S. American sources.

        US farmers would be forced to make different choices for their crops–such as more direct farm-to-table foods that require less processing by mechanical or chemical means or by animals.

        So, the food we routinely eat is largely UNSUBSIDIZED, and thus, cuts in farm subsidies will not adversely affect the cost of those foods. While the protein we eat may be cheaper because of subsidized domestic corn, it would be even cheaper if foreign sources of corn were allowed to compete on the US market. Domestic sources of unsubsidized and varied foods would then be more widely available to the consumer, and likely more healthy for them.

        Lettuce: lettuce is unsubsidized. Lettuce is still widely available and cheap (although its recently gone from $1 to $1.50 a head).

        The third world does not eat US corn, wheat, or cotton. They do not have the means of processing corn or wheat or cotton into edible foods. To feed those commodities to cows would be another step in the WRONG direction of feeding the third world.

        In the end, crop subsidizes are a very INEFFICIENT means of assisting the poor, their food choices, and the prices paid.

        End the subsidies. Let the freer market provide the bounty.

        Suggestions otherwise are largely irrational.

      2. Anonymous

        Sugar might be the most egregious case of federal subsidies HARMING the poor.

        US price supports maintain higher prices for sugar. The sugar subsidy and the quotas DIRECTLY harms the poor to the tune of paying DOUBLE for their sugar. If US sugar producers had to compete with foreign sugar sources, they would not. Sugar would be cheaper and poor folks would save money on a variety of products.

        Crop subsidies also artificially maintain high land prices so that younger & more innovative farmers cannot enter production. This lack of innovation decreases consumer choice and maintains the higher prices for products that the consumer does not prefer.

        In the end, federal subsidies and quotas benefit the producer and harms the consumer, and are largely wasteful. The rich can afford the costs; the poor cannot. As such ,they are IMMORAL.

        1. Anonymous

          The sugar subsidy & quota is also why soda makers use fructose, since it’s cheaper. So, US sugar producers loose out on sales to soda makers since their commodity is more expensive, leading to further efforts by sugar producers to further subsidize their [unneeded] sugar production and raise the quotas to keep out cheaper foreign sugar.

          And on and on goes the immoral cycle of the gov’t picking winners & losers through subsidies that harms the poor in so many ways.

    2. Anonymous

      –However, without the farm program, food would be significantly more expensive

      Simply untrue.


      1. 2/3 of food consumed in the US is unsubsidized.

      2. Eliminating farm subsidies would have no effect on food prices:

      Bruce Babcock, “Money for Nothing: Acreage and Price Impacts of U.S. Commodity Policy for Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, Cotton, and Rice,” in American Enterprise Institute, The 2007 Farm Bill and Beyond (Washington, D.C.: AEI Press, 2007), pp. 41-45, at (June 4, 2007).

      We should base ag policy on logic and rational thinking, not on wishes.

    3. Dave

      Food may go up some but markets should dictate pricing, also all the corn to the booze plants don’t help either and that is susidised more taxes of our money that corn should go to feed. I can’t aford groceries I just go either a lot food items I like such as roast, steak etc. Get government out be better iff.

  5. Mike

    You’re our Representative, yet you blame President Obama. Maybe you should stand in front of a mirror and point your crusty little finger. I can’t wait until you no longer “represent” SD.