Part 8 of the Madville Times' South Dakota State Fair Congressional Debate analysis
The last question at Sunday's debate: What specifically would you do to fight unemployment and create jobs in South Dakota?
Kristi Noem blasted the failed stimulus package, saying the U.S. has lost 300,000 jobs and seen unemployment shoot past the President's assurances to 9.6%. The stimulus, said Noem, has done little but pile debt on our children. Noem defended her vote in Pierre to accept those stimulus dollars for use in South Dakota because the Legislature did not have the option to send those dollars back to Washington to pay down the national debt. We made the best decision for you, said Noem, to use those stimulus dollars here in South Dakota.
Noem then turned to her legislative record, saying she carried a bill on wind energy (HB 1263, I'm assuming) that dealt with easements and development periods. Noem said the bill passed unanimously and creates more opportunities for wind developers to come to the state. Noem said one potential wind project may create 3000 jobs, all without spending any tax dollars or creating any government debt.
Herseth Sandlin came out swinging again, saying, "The question is on what we will do." (That's the second time Herseth Sandlin explicitly pointed out that Noem wasn't answering the question.) Herseth Sandlin piled on the specifics of what she'll do to create jobs and opportunities for South Dakotans: she said she will promote blender pumps, investment tax credits, and continue to work bipartisanly to increase the Small Business Administration's loan authority to $5 million. She recalled the trade agreement point Noem made earlier in the debate and said she will work to get the South Korea trade agreement moving.
After those positive specifics (more than Noem laid out), Herseth Sandlin still had time to rebut Noem's stimulus argument. Suppose the Legislature had had the option to send the stimulus money back for debt relief, the way Noem wanted. What cuts, Herseth Sandlin asked, would Noem have made to balance the state budget? Herseth Sandlin said Noem imagines "the economy would have somehow magically cured itself." Herseth Sandlin said Noem is just politicizing the stimulus and not offering specific solutions.
Assessment: I'm still trying to untie Noem's logical knot of how the stimulus can do no good yet be good to spend here in South Dakota. And Herseth Sandlin is right about Noem missing the question. I could be generous and say that by pointing to her wind energy easements bill, Noem was highlighting the general kind of legislation she would craft and support in Congress to create jobs. But Noem herself did not say those words; she left me having to fill in those blanks... and that left a big blank for SHS to fill with a reasonable charge that Noem didn't answer the question with the specifics requested.
Both candidates threw punches here, but Herseth Sandlin is throwing them harder. That's how you win a fight.
On answering the question and the opposition and answering harder, advantage Herseth Sandlin.
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