US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Why the Iran Nuclear Agreement Is a Bad Deal for America

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_Congress
Why the Iran Nuclear Agreement Is a Bad Deal for America
By Senator John Thune

There has been a lot of recent coverage in the news about the Iran nuclear agreement. For many South Dakotans, this agreement may seem far away. However, the danger this agreement addresses – that of a nuclear-armed Iran – is not only a threat to our allies, including Israel, but also to the United States. The agreement will help finance Iran’s terrorist activities, allow Iran to acquire conventional and ballistic weapons, and advance Iran’s nuclear program – resulting in a more dangerous and unstable world.

For this to be a good deal, full access for inspectors is essential. However, instead of the anytime, anywhere inspections that the United States initially sought, the agreement only allows for inspections of Iran’s currently known nuclear facilities.

If Iran is suspected of violating this agreement, inspectors must request Iran’s permission to examine other sites. If the Iranians object, the resulting appeals process could take almost a month, winding through various levels of bureaucracy at the United Nations before inspectors are finally allowed access. For a country that has a long history of doing things in secret, that’s a lot of time.

“Breakout time” is a phrase that has frequently been used during these negotiations. The “breakout time” is the period of time from which we know Iran has started building a nuclear bomb to the time they are able to use it. Unfortunately, as part of this agreement, even if Iran does not cheat on the deal, they can still modernize their nuclear infrastructure and continue research and development on advanced centrifuges. That means 10 years from now, Iran’s “breakout time” will be almost zero.

In addition, this agreement discontinues the ban on conventional weapons after five years and on ballistic missiles after eight. In the future, if Iran wanted to pursue a nuclear weapon, not only would their breakout time be very short, but they will likely have the means to defend themselves against a military strike. If they acquired a nuclear bomb, they could also have a ballistic missile capable of hitting targets far beyond the Middle East.

For these reasons, and the fact that lifting the sanctions will help fund Iran’s continued support of terrorism, I have expressed my strong concern about this agreement and skepticism that Iran will actually hold up their end of the deal.

Just last week, the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, echoing the chants from his people, said, “You heard ‘Death to Israel,’ ‘Death to the U.S.’ … we ask Almighty God to accept these prayers by the people of Iran.”

While I am sure not all Iranians want death to America, it is clear that their leaders still do.

As Congress reviews this agreement, I hope the president will listen to the concerns that have been raised by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the United States, and an agreement that allows Iran to retain all the components necessary to build a nuclear bomb is not a good deal for America and should be rejected.


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Dodd-Frank: Five Years Later

RoundsPressHeader MikeRounds official SenateDodd-Frank: Five Years Later
By Senator Mike Rounds
July 24, 2015

We recently marked the five-year anniversary of the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act. At the time, supporters of Dodd-Frank said it would improve our economy and protect taxpayers from “too big to fail” financial institutions. Instead, our economy remains stuck in a rut and the law has plagued our country with burdensome new federal mandates. The 456 final rules enacted since the passage of Dodd-Frank have so far unleashed a bureaucratic nightmare, the cost of which is being handed down directly to the American people.

According to the American Action Forum, these rules have cost Americans $24 billion in compliance costs and burdened job creators with 61 million new hours of paperwork. It would take close to 30,000 Americans working 40-hour weeks for an entire year to finish that much paperwork, and the salaries of more than half a million Americans to pay for those compliance costs.

South Dakota’s banking industry has been hit hard by this, spending too much time and money on regulatory compliance. Smaller banks may not be able to survive and may simply have to sell to bigger banks. At a Senate Banking Hearing, we heard from one bank that because of Dodd-Frank, now employs more compliance employees than actual loan officers. This is not only costly to the banks themselves, but also to the customers who do business with a bank. Compliance costs have to be made up somewhere, so banks have been reducing the interest rates on deposits and have increased fees for previously free services like checking accounts and online banking. Literally everyone who has a bank account is feeling the negative effects.

I have introduced amendments and legislation to take apart provisions of Dodd-Frank. One of my amendments, included in this year’s budget resolution, would provide help for people in rural areas seeking a mortgage to purchase a home. Additional legislation would repeal the so-called “pay ratio” rule in Dodd-Frank.  This redundant provision requires companies to recreate already available public information on employee salaries. These are examples of why the entire law needs to be re-examined and changed so that we can truly recover from the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 and not continue to bog down our job creators with overly burdensome federal mandates.

As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, I have been working with others to change our banking regulations. Earlier this year, we passed S. 1484, The Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015, that would provide much-needed regulatory relief to the financial services industry and the consumers they serve. I also recently introduced S. 1816 with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to help strengthen community banks, particularly those in rural areas.

Dodd-Frank has many flaws which are limiting American growth and productivity. In the five years since Dodd-Frank was enacted, it has placed undue burden on our economy, failed to protect taxpayers from future bailouts of the financial industry and unfairly punished South Dakota consumers who bear the brunt of the increased compliance costs. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to promote legislation that helps reduce red tape and overregulation. These regulations are hurting our economy and adding costs for consumers.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: A Disturbing Deal

noem press headerkristi noem headshot May 21 2014A Disturbing Deal
By Rep. Kristi Noem
July 24, 2015

Days after the Obama administration announced it had reached a nuclear deal with Iran, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei told supporters that “even after this deal, our policy toward the arrogant U.S. will not change.”  His uncompromising and menacing remarks were accented by chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” in the background.  Even Secretary of State John Kerry – one of America’s staunchest supporters of the deal – called the scene “very disturbing.”  The Secretary’s words are the same words I’d use to describe the deal the Obama administration has proposed with Iran – very disturbing.

First and foremost, the administration’s proposed agreement with Iran fundamentally fails to eliminate Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon. In fact, Iran will be allowed to keep its centrifuges and many of its nuclear production facilities intact.

What’s more, access to inspect the facilities will be limited.  It was President Reagan who advised us to “trust, but verify.”  We cannot trust Iran and under the President’s proposal we still can’t fully verify their nuclear activities either. Rather than anywhere-anytime access, Iran will get as much as 24 days notice before inspectors will be allowed in.  A lot can be concealed in 24 days.

While America’s primary objective was not reached, Iran’s was.  In addition to maintaining their nuclear infrastructure, the economic sanctions on Iran will begin to be lifted by the end of 2015.  That could produce a windfall of up to $150 billion almost immediately.  The administration argues the sanctions could “snap back” if Iran violates the agreement, but it will take time for those sanctions to be reinstated.  By the time they are, Iran will be infused with cash, meaning we will have lost our diplomatic leverage.

Moreover, there are no restrictions on how Iran – the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism – can spend this influx of cash, an idea that is extremely concerning to our ally Israel and others in the region.  With the arms embargo eventually lifting as a result of this deal too, there is little doubt that Iran will be directing some of that cash toward a stronger, better equipped military.  In fact, Iran is already in negotiations with Russia for the purchase of military aircraft.

We need to walk away from this agreement.  While it’s a good deal for Iran, it’s a bad deal for America, Israel, and our allies.

Congress now has 60 days to review the agreement.  After that, we can vote on whether it moves forward or not.  While the President has already promised to veto congressional action against the agreement, we do have options to override him with enough congressional support.

A bad deal with Iran will jeopardize the security of America, the safety of our ally Israel, and peace around the world.  I’m gravely concerned the President’s proposal puts us in this jeopardizing position.


Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Striving To Achieve A Broad, Stable Tax Base

daugaardheader  daugaard2Striving To Achieve A Broad, Stable Tax Base
  A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

On June 30, South Dakota state government closed the books on the 2015 budget year. For the fourth year in a row, the state general fund budget ended with a surplus, with both higher revenues and lower expenditures than budgeted. I have made it a priority to balance our budget each year with emphasis on conservative revenue projections. Other states often use rosy revenue numbers, debt or budget gimmicks to appear balanced, but South Dakota balances its budget honestly.

Our largest revenue source is our sales and use tax. Unfortunately, some sales made to South Dakota residents are able escape the sales tax. This creates inequity, and is unfair to retailers in our state who must compete at a disadvantage.

Currently, only businesses with a “substantial nexus” or physical presence in South Dakota must collect sales tax on goods purchased online. Out-of-state retailers, who are not physically located in South Dakota, have no such obligation. The current system doesn’t make sense, and it even discriminates among online purchases. If you buy a new iPod at your local retailer, you pay the sales tax. If you buy it online at or, you pay the sales tax, because those businesses have retail operations in South Dakota. But if you buy your iPod from, you don’t pay sales tax – simply because Amazon has no warehouse or other physical location in South Dakota.

If South Dakota retailers have to pay sales taxes, their competitors online should as well. This is not imposing a new tax. It is asking online retailers to pay the tax that is already legally due on these sales. Several pieces of legislation awaiting action or planned for introduction in Congress attempt to address this disparity. Consumers already owe sales and use tax on the goods they purchase. The legislation simply provides states the authority to enforce existing state and local sales and use tax laws and eliminates the competitive advantage enjoyed by remote retailers at the expense of local businesses.

I am thankful for the South Dakota congressional delegation’s attention to this issue. Senator Thune, Senator Rounds and Congresswoman Noem understand that a good tax system does not give an unfair advantage to some. Whether by adding online retailers to the tax rolls, encouraging business growth or getting the unemployed back to work, we should strive to achieve a broad, stable tax base.

Online shopping has given every South Dakotan access to more goods and services than ever before, if they are willing to pay for shipping. There is nothing wrong with this. We should not, however, disadvantage our local retailers or our state budget by allowing out-of-state online businesses to avoid paying sales tax. Streamlined legislation is crucial, if we want to allow South Dakota’s main street businesses to remain viable and competitive.


Almost home…

After dropping the hammer and traveling over 1000 miles yesterday, I’m happy to say that I am between Omaha and Sioux City right now.

I’m certainly glad to be heading to home territory, and will have the columns up for our representatives in Washington and South Dakota sometime this evening.

I’m hoping to fit in a quick trip down to Madison to see my brand-new college student who is starting classes early DSU. She went to college yesterday, and mom was a little upset that she wasn’t there to send her off. So, my traveling this weekend isn’t quite over when I hit the front door in Brookings.

Christine Erickson featured in Argus Leader article.

Stu Whitney’s column in the Argus Leader this morning features former state representative and current city councilor Christine Erickson, Who, in an understated way, seems to keep capturing everyone’s attention and rises in popularity.

“She’s a refreshing new voice, and she’s got moxie,” says fellow council member and former Sioux Falls mayoral candidate Greg Jamison. “Because of her experience in the legislature, she understands the technique of debate and communication. Some of us get involved in personal issues and egos, but she sees it as issue-based and doesn’t let that stuff get out of hand.”


The non-partisan nature of the job hasn’t stopped Erickson from dipping her toes in larger political waters. She was approached by the staff of U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rounds last October to emcee a Sioux Falls rally featuring Rounds and former presidential contender Mike Huckabee, an event that helped right the ship for Rounds’ eventual victory.

Read it all here.

Congrats to the kid!

I just heard from my daughter that she might’ve been elected vice chair of the South Dakota Teenage Republican Organization.

(Soon our takeover might be complete! Bwahahaha!)

just kidding! She’s a good kid and she certainly did it all on her own moxie and competitive spirit. Congratulations!

Dems not so sure Hawks will run as a Democrat in Noem Challenge

I caught this today, where a group of Democrats aren’t 100% that pro-tax and pro- abortion candidate Paula Hawks is going to call herself a Democrat in a challenge to congresswoman Kristi Noem:

…..the current State Chair, Ann Tornberg, announced that the current interim Executive Director, Zack Nistler, has resigned and will begin working for Paula Hawks’s yet to be announced campaign for the US House seat currently held by Kristi Noem. 

The fact Paula will employ the Democratic State Party’s former Interim Executive Director, increases the odds she will run, initially, as a Democrat.

Read it here.

Since when is it in doubt and they talk about odds that a liberal Democrats going to run as a liberal Democrat? 

Although, if I were Hawks, I’d want to hide the Democrat label too.

Minnehaha GOP offering Digital Training for candidates and campaigns

While I’m sitting here at Disney, where I just arrived, The Minnehaha County Republican Party just sent out a notice inviting people to attend a digital seminar on July 30. 

Please check out the flyer about an RSVP if it could be useful for you.

The Minnehaha County has out-of-state talent coming in to help do digital training. They’re hearing this to young GOPers looking to make their content matter.