US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: The ObamaCare Taxman Cometh

The ObamaCare Taxman Cometh
By Senator John Thune

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressThe Beatles aptly sang in their song “Taxman”: “If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat / If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.” Had ObamaCare been the law of the land at the time, they perhaps would have added, “If you need a pill, I’ll tax the bill; if you need a doc, my tax will shock,” to represent the pain of the tax penalties that will be hitting South Dakotans and millions of Americans across the country this tax season.

ObamaCare was supposed to solve our nation’s health care problems. It was supposed to drive down premiums and make health care more affordable. Instead, it’s generally done the opposite. Since ObamaCare became law in 2010, health care premiums have risen. Millions of Americans have lost their health insurance plans. Others have lost access to their doctors. Still others are stuck in new insurance plans paying more for less coverage.

The American Action Forum recently ran the numbers and estimated that 6,000 South Dakotans will have to pay the ObamaCare tax penalty for not having government-approved health insurance. According to a calculator on the Wall Street Journal’s website, the average individual who must pay the ObamaCare tax for not having government-approved insurance in South Dakota will pay a $394 penalty this year, while the average family of four in South Dakota will pay a $650 penalty. That’s a lot of money for a South Dakota family. And it’s only going to go up, because the tax penalty will rise in 2016.

South Dakotans could be spending that tax money on a number of essential items if they didn’t have to pay the penalty. An individual could purchase 201 gallons of gas or six weeks of groceries with the money he will use to pay the tax penalty. A family of four could buy three weeks of groceries, or cover almost two months’ worth of car payments, or purchase 332 gallons of gas at South Dakota prices. That would cover a lot of trips to school and football practice and dance practice.

The last few years have involved government creating many burdens on American workers and the American economy to fund big-government programs and the president’s pet projects. Take the ObamaCare tax on lifesaving medical devices like pacemakers and insulin pumps. This tax was put in place to help pay for the president’s health care law, but it has ended up negatively affecting jobs in this industry.

ObamaCare has demonstrated big government is not the answer. Instead of pushing big-government solutions, we need to rebuild our economy from the bottom up. I will continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to repeal and replace the most onerous parts of ObamaCare with policies that lower health care costs for South Dakota families.


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Balancing our Budgets

Weekly Column: Balancing our Budgets
By Sen. Mike Rounds
January 30, 2015

MikeRounds official SenateIn my time spent working as State Senate Majority Leader and Governor of South Dakota, balancing the state budget was part of my job. Our state laws require us to balance our books each year, so we found ways to do more with less and grow our economy without overspending – just as has always been done in South Dakota. Despite sometimes having to make tough decisions, in the end we are better off for it. I’m proud of our record of balancing the books in South Dakota for 125 years.

At the federal level, the idea of balancing a budget is seemingly a foreign concept. Our current national debt is more than $18 trillion, and shows no signs of slowing down. A recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated our annual federal deficit will be half-a-trillion dollars in 2015, and again in 2016. That comes off the heels of several years of $1 trillion annual deficits under President Obama’s watch, which CBO projects will return within a decade. This is unsustainable and poses a threat to our entire economic system.

One action we can take to combat our debt problem is to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment that would force the federal government to balance its books. It simply means that Washington cannot spend more than they’ve taken in. I’ve already agreed to cosponsor balanced budget legislation in the Senate and hopefully it will receive widespread, bipartisan support among my colleagues.

Taking significant steps to rein in spending, as the Balanced Budget Amendment would do, would send a strong signal to job creators that we are serious about growing our economy for the long haul. It would give them the confidence to invest and hire again.

The South Dakota State House just passed legislation calling for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget. If it is approved by the Senate and signed by the Governor, South Dakota would join 24 other states calling for such an amendment. Thirty eight states are required by law to approve an amendment to the Constitution. It is unfortunate that Washington’s irresponsibility is forcing these actions.

When I talk to South Dakotans, they always ask me why Washington is so broken, and the fact is that the culture of spending in this country has gotten out of hand. It is extremely frustrating to me, and I will support every effort to responsibly rein in spending. Continuing to kick the can down the road only exacerbates the problem for future generations. Congress must begin its work on a long-term solution to balancing our books. Passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution is a good place to start.


Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Caring For Those Who Have Borne The Battle

Caring For Those Who Have Borne The Battle
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

daugaard2Last year at this time, the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs launched Operation Reaching All Veterans. Seeking new ways to assist those who have served, the Department began an unprecedented effort to reach out to veterans all across the state.

Historically, American veterans haven’t always received the kind of support they deserve. During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress did not have the authority or the money to pay soldiers, so payment was left to the states. Though General Washington and many of the Founders stressed the importance of justly compensating those fighting for liberty, the states just weren’t able to afford it. Only 3,000 out of the 200,000 who served in the war actually drew a pension.

By the time the Civil War began, a federal veteran pension system was in place, and by the end of the war – at the urging of Abraham Lincoln – veterans’ hospitals were opened.

We’ve come a long way since then. But even with all of our progress, there’s still more to do. As Lincoln put it in his second inaugural address, we must always strive to “care for him who shall have borne the battle.”

Today we have a new generation to care for. Since 9/11, each of South Dakota’s 22 National Guard communities has experienced a unit mobilization in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn and Noble Eagle. To date, the South Dakota National Guard has deployed more than 7,200 Soldiers and Airmen in support of the Global War on Terror. Thankfully, for the first time in more than a decade, none of our National Guard soldiers or airmen are currently deployed overseas.

With a new generation of veterans to serve, the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs launched Operation Reaching All Veterans last January with the goal of reaching out to every single veteran in South Dakota. This campaign was a first for the Department and a first in the nation.  Their objectives were to educate veterans and their families about benefits, programs and services; to listen to concerns, provide key contacts to assist on a local level; and, most importantly, to say “thank you.”

The Department anticipates that there are 75,000 veterans living in South Dakota. Over the last year, staff and veterans service officers estimate they have already made contact with about two-thirds of those veterans by making phone calls, staffing a booth at the Capitol and holding 153 open houses in 63 counties. One veterans’ service officer, Tom Sparrow of Turner County, personally contacted over 11,000 veterans.

Larry Zimmerman, South Dakota Secretary of Veterans Affairs, says that this was just Phase I. Phase II will involve trying to reach those that they couldn’t reach by phone.

I know there is no way to fully repay our veterans for all they have sacrificed to protect our freedom. They left the comfort of their homes and the embraces of their loved ones to put their lives on the line for us. Still, I believe Operation Reaching All Veterans is making a difference, and it’s one step toward repaying just a small part of the debt we owe to those who have borne the battle.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Beating Heart Disease

Beating Heart Disease
By Rep. Kristi Noem
January 30, 2015

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014A few weeks ago, a friend of mine suffered a heart attack.  Thankfully, he received the medical attention he needed in time and is now recovering at home, but the whole experience was extremely sobering and made me hug my family a bit closer that night.

Each year, 720,000 Americans have a heart attack.  While many think about heart disease as something that primarily impacts older men, about half of heart attacks are suffered by women and 35,000 a year impact individuals who are under 55.  But while anyone can develop heart disease, those who smoke, have diabetes, are overweight, eat poorly, or don’t get enough exercise are at a greater risk.

Regardless of age or gender, the most common symptom of heart disease is chest pain or discomfort.  Sometimes this pain is sudden and intense, but in most cases, it starts slowly.  Women may also experience a shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and back or jaw pain – although men can display these symptoms as well.

Acting quickly if any of these symptoms occur is critical.  The American Heart Association recommends waiting no longer than five minutes before calling 911.

The best treatment, however, is prevention.  Monitor your cholesterol and blood pressure.  Have your glucose levels checked regularly.  Kick the smoking habit.  Get up and get active.  Experts say improving your health could take as little as a ten-minute walk, three times a day.

We’ve learned a lot about heart disease – especially as it relates to the disease’s impact on women – over the last decade or so.  That knowledge is saving lives.  Between 2000 and 2010, the rates of death for heart disease fell by an average of 3.8 percent annually.  While advances have been made, far too many lives are lost every year to the disease.

February is American Heart Month.  I encourage you to do something today to reduce your risk.  Take a walk.  Dish up some extra vegetables.  Schedule a doctor’s appointment.  Quit smoking.  Take control and make just one change.


Still light posting, and a computer in pieces.

FullSizeRender I still anticipate slow/light posting here at the SDWC for another few days with my computer on the fritz, as you can see in the picture to the left a multitude of disconnected hard drives, as I try to limp it along enough to do some basic posting.

I think I managed to salvage all of my design work files, but more importantly I salvaged about 275 gigabytes and over ten years of photos off of the drive giving me the most trouble.

So, bear with me. Parts start arriving tomorrow for a rebuild and upgrade, so I should be back up to 100% in short order.   (Just in time to do my taxes. )

Cook Political report updates Congressional baseline analysis: Noem can likely hold this seat as long as she wants.

The Cook political report (Subscription required) recently updates their baseline analysis for several states including South Dakota. And what they had to say shouldn’t come to any shock for SDWC readers.

Because Congresswoman Noem is not going anywhere anytime soon, and is ranked as Solid Republican:

SD-AL: Kristi Noem (R) – Entire state

Solid Republican. After skilled Blue Dog Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin held this seat for six years, Republicans finally caught the break they needed in 2010 when Noem, a state representative with farm roots and appeal, capitalized on a great GOP year to beat Herseth Sandlin 48 percent to 46 percent. Noem wasn’t just an ideal image comparison for Republicans. She developed into a serious and aggressive candidate who proved adept at staying on the offensive, hitting Herseth Sandlin on support from EMILY’s List and her husband’s lobbying role. In a year like 2010, any ties to the inner dealings of Washington were toxic, especially in a small town state like South Dakota.


Democrat Matt Varilek, an energetic 37 year-old former aide to Sen. Tim Johnson, sought to turn Noem’s record on ag issues into the silver bullet he needed to beat Noem in a reliably GOP state. Varilek raised a very respectable $983,000, and earned strong reviews on the stump. But Noem wasn’t about to be caught napping: she raised $2.8 million, contested Democrats’ allegations on her committee attendance, and reclaimed the offense by hitting Varilek for earning environmental degrees abroad (Varilek won a scholarship to attend the University of Glasgow) and for advocating cap and trade in the past. Noem prevailed 57 percent to 43 percent.

In 2014, after passage of a new five-year Farm Bill, Noem finally found her footing, defeating 25-year Army veteran Corinna Robinson 67 percent to 33 percent.


Noem can likely hold this seat as long as she wants.

Read it all here. (Subscription required)

Mitt is out of the 2016 Presidential sweepstakes.

From Fox News:

Mitt Romney announced Friday he will not run for president in 2016, after briefly flirting with a third White House run — a decision that only slightly narrows the crowded field of potential Republican candidates.

“After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it’s best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee,” Romney told donors on a conference call Friday morning.

Read it here.

Having a bad computer day week, but posting straight from Pierre ahead.

There could be spotty posting ahead, especially in the evenings. I think my “bitter computer” might have bit the dust.

My main computer with all of my software, records, e-mail, etcetera and everything decided to inconveniently die. Just because it really hasn’t been turned off in 2-3 years, and is used day and night is no reason to bite the dust. I usually have power supplies give up the ghost and wear out, which is an easy fix, but I think my motherboard went, and that’s major surgery.

I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that the SDWC mothership is up on blocks at the moment, and I’m posting from iPad & iPhone, and a computer that doesn’t have 1/4 of the resources that my main one does.

Actually, it so happens that I would have been on remote anyway, as I’m going to be on the road to Pierre this next week. I’m coming over for some REALTOR things (Thumbs up for the Chili/Oyster feed), and my wife is getting a nice award for being recognized as the Special Ed Administrator of the year.
Hopefully late next week, the SDWC signal will be back at full capacity. But in the interim I’ll be bringing your daily fix of political coverage straight from out state’s Capital!

AFP South Dakota Statement on Senate Passage of the Keystone Pipeline

AFP South Dakota Statement on Senate Passage of the Keystone Pipeline

President’s Attempt to Stop Keystone Running on Empty

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Americans for Prosperity South Dakota State Director Ben Lee released the following statement upon Senate approval of the Keystone Pipeline:

“We congratulate Senators Thune and Rounds on taking bold action to approve the Keystone Pipeline. After years of delays and obstruction led by President Obama – the Left has finally run out of excuses. The American people have spoken clearly: now is the time to build the Keystone Pipeline. This common sense investment will provide relief for middle-class families, create 42,000 good-paying jobs and provide secure energy for the Nation’s future. We urge the President to put aside partisan differences and swiftly sign this bill into law,” Lee said.