Republican Budget Cuts Hurt South Dakota Families →


Republican Budget Cuts Hurt South Dakota Families

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The South Dakota Democratic Party released the following statement from Executive Director Sam Parkinson in response to House Republicans narrowly passing a budget bill this morning:

“This Republican budget – voted for last week by Senators Mike Rounds and John Thune, and voted for today by Rep. Kristi Noem – takes money out of the pockets of hardworking South Dakota families and gives it to the top 1 percent. It will make drastic cuts to vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid to give huge tax cuts to wealthy corporations and millionaire and billionaires. Even worse, these tax cuts aren’t paid for. The Republican budget will increase the budget deficit by at least $1.5 trillion, which will in turn be used by Republicans as an excuse to make even deeper cuts into programs that help South Dakota families.

“But while Republicans continue to fight to give more and more to the wealthy and special interests, Democrats will continue fighting to give all working families the economic security and opportunity they deserve.”

Here is a closer look at how the Republican budget will hurt South Dakota families:


  • The Republican budget calls for nearly $500 billion in cuts to Medicare.
  • In South Dakota, 156,127 people who rely on Medicare are at risk.
  • Medicare beneficiaries make up 18 percent of South Dakota’s total population, including:
    • Seniors: 87 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in South Dakota are seniors.
    • People with disabilities: 13 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in South Dakota have a disability.
    • Women: 58 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in South Dakota are women.
    • Rural communities: Nearly one in four Medicare beneficiaries nationwide live in rural areas.


  • The Republican budget calls for more than $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid – an even deeper cut than Republicans proposed in their health care repeal bills.
  • In South Dakota 109,100 people who rely on Medicaid are at risk.
  • Medicaid beneficiaries make up 14 percent of South Dakota’s total population, including:
    • Adults: 1 in 12 nonelderly adults in South Dakota.
    • Children: 1 in 3 children in South Dakota.
    • Seniors: 1 in 2 nursing home residents in South Dakota.
    • People with disabilities: 2 in 5 people with disabilities in South Dakota.
    • Women: 65 percent of nonelderly Medicaid beneficiaries in South Dakota are women.
    • Rural communities: Medicaid covers one in four nonelderly rural residents nationwide.
    • Veterans: 4,000 veterans in South Dakota rely on Medicaid services.


  • The Republican budget calls for deep cuts to programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, and Social Security.
  • SNAP helps 96,000 South Dakota families and workers stay out of poverty and keep healthy food on the table.
    • Almost 75 percent of SNAP participants in South Dakota are in families with children.
    • More than 48 percent of SNAP participants in South Dakota are in working families.
    • Almost 27 percent of SNAP participants in South Dakota are in families with members who are seniors or have a disability.
  • In 2016, SNAP benefits added $145 million to South Dakota’s economy, because families spend their SNAP benefits at local grocery stores and other retailers.
  • 21,041 South Dakotans rely on Social Security Disability Insurance, which workers pay into so they can support their families if they develop a severe disability.


  • By passing their budget, Republicans have cleared the first hurdle in moving forward to a vote on a tax bill that has been written in secret and few have seen. If the Republican tax plan were to pass:
  • The richest one percent of South Dakota residents would receive 62 percent of the state’s total tax cuts in 2018. These households are projected to earn at least $589,600 next year and would see an average tax cut of $129,120 in 2018.
  • In stark contrast, middle-class South Dakotans would only receive 5 percent of the state’s total tax cuts. These households would only get an average tax cut of $500 in 2018.
  • Millionaires alone would get 54 percent of the state’s total tax cuts. Their average tax cut would be 532 times the tax cut middle class families would get.
  • 7 percent of South Dakota households would face a tax hike if the GOP tax plan was in effect in 2018.


  • CUTS TO EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Nationwide, the Republican budget cuts close to $200 billion from services like Pell Grants and student loan assistance over the next decade.


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Why Seniors Are Turning Against The GOP

When it comes to supporting the GOP, seniors are having a change of heart.

That’s the lesson from a July national survey that captured seniors’ growing discontent with Republican positions on Medicare, jobs, wages, and education. The growing discontent could have electoral consequences too. From the survey:

—In 2010, seniors voted for Republicans by a 21 point margin (38 percent to 59 percent). Among seniors likely to vote in 2014, the Republican candidate leads by just 5 points (41 percent to 46 percent.)

—More than half (55 percent) of seniors say the Republican Party is too extreme, half (52 percent) say it is out of touch, and half (52 percent) say the GOP is dividing the country. Just 10 percent of seniors believe that the Republican Party does not put special interests ahead of ordinary voters.

While Democrats are fighting to preserve Medicare, protect Social Security, and raise wages for working families, Republicans are doing everything in their power to destroy the safety net our seniors have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

Read the full article by click the image. And this weekend, do your part to remind South Dakota seniors who’s fighting for them.


I want to be a volunteer!

The South Dakota Democratic Party is volunteer driven organization. Our volunteers spread our message, determine our goals, and help elect Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. Be a South Dakota Democratic Party volunteer today!

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Note to Noem: Challenge Accepted

“Point to one policy that this president has enacted that has actually worked.” That’s what Rep. Kristi Noem challenged folks to outline on Fox News yesterday with Greta Van Susteren

Challenge accepted. Here are just a few Obama policies that are working for Americans everyday.

  • Added 4.1 million private sector jobs and seen 25 straight months of job growth. American Recovery Act.
  • Rescued American auto industry, saving more than 1 million jobs and preventing the loss of over $96 billion in personal income as a result. Rescue loans to American Auto Industry.
  • Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”ensuring that no one ever again has to lie about who they are to serve the country they love. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.
  • Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, making progress in a decades-long battle for women to get equal pay for equal work. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act
  • Provided 46 million seniors access to free preventive services like annual wellness visits and health screenings .Affordable Care Act. 
  • Closed the Medicare “doughnut hole,” saving the average senior approximately $4,200 over the next 10 years. Affordable Care Act. 
  • Extended more benefits to National Guard members who have performed active service and allow education benefits to be transferred to family members. Post 9/11 GI Bill.
  • Brought the war in Iraq to a responsible end. For the first time in nine years, there are no American troops fighting in Iraq.
  • Doubled funding for Pell grants, making college more affordable for 9 million students a year.
  • Established new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks will nearly double fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, saving American families an estimated $1.7 trillion at the pump.

The policies and their effects are pretty obvious. So either Noem is lying about Obama’s policies that work or she doesn’t see these policies as successes. Either case shows an extreme lack of attention that the issues of our day deserve.

Here’s some advice for Noem: take some time away from high dollar lobbyist fundraisers and Fox News appearances to learn the issues. It’s hard enough when smart legislators make bad decisions. It’s worse when oblivious representatives make terrible ones.


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Nesselhuf Statement on Stephanie Herseth Sandlin

South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf released the following statement after former Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin announced that she will not run for office in 2012:

“South Dakotans are calling for an alternative to Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s efforts to end Medicare as we know it and to increase taxes on working families. Matt Varilek and Jeff Barth will continue to focus on solutions for South Dakota instead of obstruction in Washington. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin will remain a source of leadership, insight, and determination through this election and many more to come.”

Matt Varilek, former Economic Development Director for Senator Tim Johnson, and Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth are seeking the Democratic nomination for South Dakota’s lone congressional seat. More information on both candidates can be found at and or by following them on Facebook at Matt for SD and Jeff Barth for Congress.

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Potential House candidate Matt Varilek speaks →

Matt Varilek isn’t running for Congress. Yet.

Varilek, an aide to Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., spoke to 15 members of the Davison County Democratic Party on Tuesday night at LifeQuest in Mitchell. The former high school debater gave a brief but polished speech, fielded questions and then sipped coffee, munched on a brownie and chatted with the Democrats.

He is considering a race for the nomination to run against Rep. Kristi Noem, a first-term Republican, and said he will continue to meet with Democrats and talk with his wife before he makes an announcement.

“We don’t have a final timeframe,” he said.

But on Tuesday night, Varilek, of Sioux Falls, sounded like a candidate.

He took aim at Noem and leveled several broadsides at her, accusing the state’s lone member of the House of having been pulled into a “tea party frenzy” during her year in public life.

“Kristi Noem has not been on our side,” Varilek said.

He said she has supported continuing subsidies for big oil and gas in Congress and he wonders why, since there are no such businesses in South Dakota and the country is in need of tax revenue.

Varilek said a close look at Noem’s campaign finance reports shows she has received thousands of dollars from Exxon, Chevron, Halliburton and other oil and gas companies.

“All of a sudden that vote doesn’t look so mysterious anymore,” he said.

Varilek said he has also watched in dismay as Noem has done little to help South Dakotans who rely on Medicare, children who depend on Medicaid and students who seek financial aid through the federal Pell Grant program. He said she has also not helped towns in need of assistance to maintain and improve their water infrastructure.

“And that really stood out to me,” Varilek said. “I don’t know if she even thinks these are good ideas for South Dakota.”

Varilek said he would be the kind of congressman who reaches out to Republicans and works with them. The word bipartisanship isn’t something he shies away from, he said.

Varilek said he was struck by Noem’s words when he attended a speech she gave recently in which she said politics are too polarized.

“Well, I couldn’t agree more,” he said. “But that’s kind of like Goliath calling David the bully.”

Varilek said he was dismayed when Noem sided with House Republicans who threatened to shut down the government this summer. That would have caused severe economic hardships, he said, and he was surprised she adopted that stance.

“It just made no sense at all,” Varilek said. “And I think that’s reckless.”

He said he favors raising government revenue by closing tax loopholes for big companies while also investing in programs to help people. Varilek referred to that as “a balanced approach to a balanced budget” and said he would vote to reduce the deficit.

Veteran Democratic campaign consultant Steve Hildebrand, a Mitchell native who now lives in Sioux Falls, is one of the people behind a Facebook effort to draft Varilek into the race.

Hildebrand served as a deputy national campaign director for the 2008 Obama campaign and has also worked for President Bill Clinton, Vide President Al Gore, Sen. Johnson and former Sen. Tom Daschle.

Noem’s communications director, Joshua Shields, declined to comment directly on Varilek’s possible candidacy.

“Rep. Noem is focused on her work empowering South Dakota small businesses and reducing their regulatory burdens,” Shields said.

But Tony Post, executive director of the South Dakota Republican Party, said voters deserve to know how Varilek differs from Sen. Johnson or if he shares his views and political stances.

“My first thought is, if he has aspirations, he needs to quit the cushy government job and start campaigning or just keep on the job,” he said.

Davison County Democratic Party Chairman Dave Mitchell said he was impressed with Varilek’s presentation.

Mitchell, a Dakota Wesleyan University professor, said he has often been embarrassed by Noem and some of the things she says. He urged Varilek to run, as did others at the meeting.

Matt Korzan, a South Dakota native who recently returned home after living in Virginia, told Varilek to run and also said finding a way to retain the brightest young people in South Dakota should be a major concern. Varilek agreed.

Kathryn Crockett said while she hopes he runs, she wants Varilek to take firm stands on issues. She said his speech was long on generalities.

Varilek, 36, grew up in Yankton and Tabor and studied at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., where he earned two master’s degrees with an emphasis on economic development. A Carleton professor, Paul Wellstone, stunned the Minnesota political world in the 1990s when he ran a long-shot Senate campaign and unseated a wellfunded incumbent.

“Maybe there’s a lesson there for all challengers,” Varilek said.

He worked as a market analyst before joining Daschle’s staff in early 2004. After Daschle’s loss to John Thune in 2004, Varilek joined Johnson’s staff, where he has served as his economic development director while also writing some speeches for the three-term Democrat.

Varilek started working in Washington, D.C., but moved home to South Dakota in 2007 and now accompanies Johnson when he tours the state. He said he has learned a great deal about government and people by spending time around Johnson.

“Tim says, ‘A South Dakota leader has to put South Dakota first,’ ” Varilek said.

Varilek and his wife, Maggie, live in Sioux Falls with daughters Willa and Mae.

So far, Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth is the only Democrat to have declared his candidacy for the state’s sole House seat.

U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, Tim Johnson’s son, is also considered a possible candidate, but Varilek said he didn’t “see any sign of that.”

Former congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, who is now working as a lobbyist for a Washington, D.C., law firm, has said there’s a 50-50 chance she will run for her old seat in 2012.

“That’s not what I’m focused on,” Varilek said of her possible candidacy.

Barth will speak to the Davison County Democrats on Nov. 15. The event will be open to the public.

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Why Health Care Reform Was A Fight Worth Winning

Fall is in the air. So too, for many in college (and their parents), are the effects of reforming health care. You see, if not for this day one year ago, college’s super-seniors, grad students, and those just beginning to enter this less-than-ideal job market would have had to face the perils of going uninsured.

On September 23, 2010:

  • Young adults (up to age 26) were allowed to remain on their parents’ health insurance, if their parents so desired;
  • Insurers could no longer deny children coverage for a pre-existing condition; and
  • No health plan could have a lifetime or annual limit on certain benefits or rescind coverage if an individual got sick.

So today, we celebrate. We celebrate the day Congress stood up against injustice and insurance cronies. We celebrate a President who stood up for young people, old people, poor people, rich people, working people, sick people, and yes, even healthy people.

Today, we cheer the million more people ages 19 to 25 who had health insurance in the first quarter of 2011 than in the same time period in 2010, because we know prevention and early-intervention are the best and most cost-effective medicines.

Most of all, we are humbled by the fight that got us to this day. We know it was neither easy nor without risk. But today, we are sure, the Affordable Care Act was a fight worth winning. Thank you, Mr. President.

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Does Representative Noem Stand with Paul Ryan, Consider Social Security a “Ponzi Scheme”?

Does Representative Noem Stand with Paul Ryan, Consider Social Security a “Ponzi Scheme”? Continue Reading »

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Thune Goes Washington…Again.

We hate to break this news; but moderation is not the new ‘black’. In fact, as Sen. Lamar Alexander exits his GOP leadership post, and Sen. John Thune clamors for the megaphone, it seems the hottest thing this season is Republican double-speak. (Say What?!)

We remember a day when Thune found leadership objectionable. We also remember the day Thune registered as a lobbyist. Oh, and the day he then served as a member of Congress and a lobbyist on behalf of his old clients.

What we’re not looking forward to is the day Thune steps into this new leadership role and then sells out South Dakota to the highest bidder. It’s been done before – we remember MetaBank too.

So, Sen. Thune – put Kristi Noem’s Tea Party aside, forget your 2014 Presidential Primary, and remember you represent more than Dan Nelson and his Iowa residency at the Federal Prison.

(Actually, whom are we kidding? What has John Thune ever done for South Dakota? Listen up – two words: Vote Democrat. Two more words: In 2012. Four more: Then Again In 2014.)

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“Saving” Medicare? Let’s Get A Few Things Straight

Dear South Dakota: Your new Congresswoman, Kristi Noem, recently claimed that her vote to destroy Medicare as we know it “saved” Medicare. Baffled? Us too.

You see, South Dakota, Kristi Noem claims that her buddy Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan won’t change things for folks 55 and over – except of course for the rising Medicare Part-D premiums that the Bush Administration never bothered to pay for. Kristi Noem also claims that folks under 55 will have guaranteed Medicare – except of course, Medicare will be privatized, her insurance company donors will be raking in the big bucks, and you better not pick the wrong “plan” because you might not get coverage when you need it most, kinda like those drug formularies currently used in Medicare Part-D plans. Oh yeah, and if you’re under 55 and already have Medicare because of a disability, well, Kristi Noem and Paul Ryan don’t plan to protect you. You’re lumped with the Medicare have-nots too.

Now, some of you may want to give Kristi Noem the benefit of the doubt. She is, after all, only a Freshman, and did, after all, just complete a congressional internship this Spring in Washington, DC. So, here’s the direct quote she gave the Sioux Falls Argus Leader yesterday:

Argus Leader: “If you look at a voucher-type program for Medicare when you retire, that’s something you want?”

Noem: “It’s not a voucher program, though. I think that’s something a lot of people like to label it. It’s essentially where insurance plans are going to be subsidized by the federal government. So it’s not where I get a voucher and pick an insurance plan. It’s totally different. It’s where the seniors get to come in and pick the plan that best fits them. Then the federal government will step in and subsidize those plans. So the voucher doesn’t ever come to the senior and they get out and shop around. It’s much more where they get their choice of plans.”

Noem goes on to say,

“And Obamacare certainly changed Medicare as we know it – half a trillion dollars in cuts, and the decisions of a 15-member board, it’s a lot different than a patient and their doctor making those decisions.”

Agreed – her explanation of what a voucher is not sounds a lot like the definition of a voucher. Again, benefit of the doubt – she’s a freshman intern. Perhaps more interestingly, Noem attacks changes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made to Medicare Advantage Plans, plans that cost the government more per patient than standard Medicare for the same services. Continue Reading »

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Why Social Security Is Worth Protecting

When President Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law on August 14, 1935, he said,

“The civilization of the past hundred years, with its startling industrial changes, has tended more and more to make life insecure. Young people have come to wonder what would be their lot when they came to old age. The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last. This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete. It is, in short, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.”

Roosevelt’s words are as relevant now as they were then.  The Social Security Act and its promise to aid the most vulnerable help comprise the very fabric of our social fiber.  Social Security, and the people it helps, is worth protecting.

As we celebrate its 76th anniversary, we remember Social Security’s humble beginnings and the lives forever changed because Americans believed we do better when we all do better. As Democrats, we stand proud for the difference Social Security has made, and stand ready to protect a more secure future.

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