Jack Zaleski of the Fargo-Moorhead Inforum says North Dakota's balanced budget and economic success actually depend on Washington's continued big spending:
North Dakota gets approximately $2 in federal money for every $1 state taxpayers send to Uncle Sam, according to the Tax Foundation. That’s one helluva return. Without it, the state’s bright budget picture might be dim.
...Lawmakers who are in the mode of biting the hand that feeds them would be hard-pressed to come off as such economic wizards were it not for the billions of dollars that flow into the state from federal programs. Tick ’em off:
- Military spending at two Air Force bases, which has more to do with pumping dollars into the state’s economy than with national defense.
- Farm programs that range from crop subsidies and emergency disaster appropriations to conservation incentives and food security.
- Social Security payments that rise annually as the state’s population ages.
- Medicare for Grandma and Grandpa – and, of course, for the thriving elder-care industry and medical/hospital sector, where good jobs are being created daily.
- Flood control projects, water-delivery systems and highway and road work that would never get done without federal participation. Good jobs there.
- Education and research grants to enhance public/private partnerships on the state’s university campuses. More good jobs.
Washington more like North Dakota? In practical, measurable terms, there is little difference. The state feeds at the federal trough not because it’s wedded to pork, but because history, geography and climate put the state at a disadvantage. That disadvantage has been addressed by the federal government since before statehood – from the Homestead Act to the most recent farm bills [Jack Zaleski, "Make Washington Like North Dakota?" Fargo-Moorhead Inforum, 2010.06.27].
Hmm... sound like any Dakota you know?
I ask Kristi Noem and her supporters the same question Zaleski asks Berg (and the same question the Tea Party faker she beat, R. Blake Curd, could never answer consistently): to put your "common sense" rhetoric into practice, what federal assistance to South Dakota will you eliminate? The new drone program at Ellsworth Air Force Base? The farm subsidies that kept your ranch afloat? Medicare and Social Security? Funding for the U.S. Forest Service and the Mount Rushmore National Monument?
Let's see Noem spin her way out of that one.