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Unpatriotic Noem Longs for 1910… Because Obama Wins on Low Taxes Now!

Last updated on 2013.03.25

Intern Kristi Noem says tax day is nothing to celebrate. Funny: people tell me taxes are a patriotic duty.

Anyway, in her tax day tear sheet, Intern Noem demonstrates her grasp of taxes, history, and selective statistics:

The non-partisan Tax Foundation estimates that this year, 100% of the income the average American earns from January 1st to April 12th (102 days) will go to pay federal, state, and local taxes for 2011. Therefore, April 12th is considered "Tax Freedom Day," the day on which the average American will start working for anything besides paying his or her taxes.

To put that in historical perspective, Tax Freedom Day in 1910 came on January 19th. Taxes that year were just 5% of a person's income. Today Tax Freedom Day comes several months later and taxes make up more than 27% of an average person's income [Congressional Intern Kristi Noem, "Tax Day Is Nothing to Celebrate," press release, 2011.04.18].

Ah, yes, 1910. The good old days, before we had a standing international military, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, birth control pills, or an Interstate Highway System. Intern Noem is clearly in favor of returning us to 1910 and eliminating at least some of those modern abominations.

But wait a minute: why does Noem take the historical long view here? What practical policy direction do we gain by comparing the largely horse-and-buggy government of 1910 to the modern Leviathan that spans the globe with might, money, and megabytes [I had to work for that one]? Is she trying to tell us life was better before Ronald Reagan was born? (No, no, no!)

The likely answer: Noem's minions looked at the data on "Tax Freedom Day" and found they had to go that far back to throw the rhetorical punch they wanted. According to the Tax Foundation, Tax Freedom Day is earlier under President Obama than it was any year under President George W. Bush.

Tax Freedom Day, 1900–2011
Year TFD Tax burden
1900 January 22 5.90%
1910 January 19 5.00%
1920 February 13 12.00%
1930 February 12 11.70%
1940 March 7 17.90%
1950 March 31 24.60%
1960 April 11 27.70%
1970 April 19 29.60%
1980 April 21 30.40%
1990 April 21 30.40%
2000 May 1 33.00%
2001 April 27 31.80%
2002 April 17 29.20%
2003 April 14 28.40%
2004 April 15 28.50%
2005 April 21 30.20%
2006 April 24 31.20%
2007 April 24 31.10%
2008 April 16 29.00%
2009 April 8 26.60%
2010 April 9 26.90%

If Noem compared current tax rates to any year since 1960, she'd have had to say, "Gee, Cory and Rachel are right: our taxes are the lowest they've been in my lifetime. Thanks, President Obama and Democrats!" (Thanks also, says the Tax Foundation, to the recession and changes in tax law.)

Kristi Noem's comparison of our current tax burden to the tax burden in 1910 is specious. She has declared her affection for certain government programs that did not exist in 1910. Noem doesn't really want to return government to 1910 levels. She just wants to pick numbers that make her half-baked arguments look good.

Vaguely related: Actually, 1910 was a pretty good year here in South Dakota. Hamlin County, Noem's home turf, had nearly 1600 more people than it does now. A couple counties south, my beloved Lake County, unlike now, was growing... without any RV tax dodgers.

Also related: Kristi was in Madison today for a "community listening event." Did I miss the invitation to the community to attend?


  1. Chris S. 2011.04.20

    In 1910, Kristi "Math Is Hard!" Noem would have been ineligible to vote. Noted without comment.

  2. mike 2011.04.21

    You would think she'd come to talk flooding?

  3. Stan Gibilisco 2011.04.21

    "Thanks, President Obama and Democrats!” (Thanks also, says the Tax Foundation, to the recession and changes in tax law.)"

    Please click on the link "recession and changes in tax law." Then look at the light blue curve in Figure 1, and read the paragraph above that figure, that is, the paragraph titled "The Federal Budget Deficit."

  4. Stan Gibilisco 2011.04.21

    Thank you, Captain Edward J. Smith, for the smooth ride you're giving us on board this fine ship!

  5. Charlie Johnson 2011.04.21

    Was the general public notified of KN coming to Madison for a "listening mtg" ? Were they not welcomed to come speak or listen? Was this a phot op session or a chance to hear from rank and file voters?

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.04.21

    Stan, you're absolutely right: if we were paying for everything we're buying, we'd have a much larger tax burden. Of coruse, Intern Kristi contends that being taxed too little has absolutely nothing to do with the deficit. She says Washington (not we, but Washington) spends too much.

    Charlie, if there was any notice in the paper, I missed it. Mike McDowell tweeted about it last week, but he never replied to my tweet asking when and where. Anyone else get an announcement?

  7. Steven Kant 2011.04.21

    My thoughts exactly. I was not invited and did not read of any "common folks" in the article. The article really was just a publicity stunt. I think its time for K Noem to loose the leather and start to redesign her appearance. She offered no ideas in the whole article to solve any of the problems facing the country. On a side note, didn't Russell look like he was about to pee his pants in that picture? The whole story brought the MDL to a new low.

  8. Eve Fisher 2011.04.21

    To bring this and the RV issue together, last night's front page article with Ms. Noem talking with Mr. Knuths, and Mr. Knuths complaining about how regulations hurt small banks. Pardon me while I go choke on my morning coffee.

  9. DeLon Mork 2011.04.21

    Steven, before you disassociate me from "common folk", you should meet me and then make your judgement. My question was not a softball and was uncomfortable for her to answer.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.04.21

    Dang, DeLon! I need to read that question! I'm off to the library to get a copy of the paper!

  11. Steven Kant 2011.04.21

    DeLon, if I offended you, I apologize. To make this perfectly clear, I have nothing but respect for you and the business that you run. You are a great asset to the Madison area. Any question to K Noem makes her uncomfortable. When you don't understand the issues its hard to answer any question. I still maintain that this was more of a photo op than a town hall meeting.

  12. Charlie Johnson 2011.04.21

    Delon is about as "common" as you can get. He meets, greets, and visits with every one. Heartland should never have stated it was a community listening event. Most likely the meeting was by invitation only. Which is fine perhaps but don't call it a community meeting when the public is not notified nor welcome.

  13. mike 2011.04.21

    Josh Shields probably advised Noem to wear a leather jacket because that's what Thune wore in 2004. It's a by the book thing.

    Someone should find out why "regular people" weren't invited. Noem has some explaining to do.

  14. mike 2011.04.21

    All Noem cares about is raising campaign money.

  15. Steve Sanchez 2011.04.21

    On Tuesday, April 19th, Heartland GM Mike McDowell Tweeted:!/M_McDowell/statuses/60406001337253888

    Each time I go to HCPD's website, I have to re-read the part about how the public power utility and political subdivision of the state of South Dakota provides low-cost power, as well as energy services and community development programs, to municipalities and state agencies in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.

    The City of Madison is, and will be until at least 2040, one of Heartland's customers. Even with the Western Area Power Administration's drought-added fee, the city pays HCPD approximately 2.5 times what it pays WAPA for its electricity. (Yes, I asked the question.) Today, we can buy gas at $3.75/gallon. If a local business sells the same gallon of gas for $9.375, I would not refer to that as low-cost.

    Last year, the city entered that "window" of having to announce either the end of its contract with Heartland, which (if I'm deciphering my notes correctly) ran through 2030, or to renew/extend through 2040. I asked the commissioners if there had been any discussions with other electricity providers serving our area, for the purpose of seeking a better rate. I learned two things. Rates are non-negotiable. There weren't any discussions outside of those with HCPD. "What then becomes the deciding factor when choosing who to go with?" I asked. Answer: Longevity of the company, Quality of the company, etc.

    That's power. That's forward thinking. -- That's no joke!

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.04.21

    Heartland definitely has its hooks in our local and state leaders. And that Tweet sounds like more of a brag than an invitation to the community. Anyone have a guest list?

  17. Charlie Johnson 2011.04.21

    Perhaps it has been a long day at the office. Could we have a definition of community?

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.04.22

    Charlie, I like the definition of "community" from ecology: "a group of interacting organisms sharing a populated environment." The etymology is noteworthy: com meaning "with, together" and munus meaning "gift."

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