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112th Congress Inequality Report Card: Tim Johnson B+, Noem D, Thune F

Washington-based progressive think tank Institute for Policy Studies has issued its 2012 Inequality Report Card, which scores members of Congress on their support for the 99% rather than the richest 1% of Americans. IPS bases its scores on 40 important votes during the 112th Congress, such as...

  • capping the Bush-Obama tax breaks to apply only to the first $250K of income
  • cracking down on offshore tax havens
  • supporting a minimum tax rate for upper-income Americans (the Buffett Rule)
  • eliminating tax subsidies for Big Oil
  • opposing Paul Ryan's budget
  • resisting calls to weaken protections for labor

South Dakota's 99% have one champion, Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, who scores a B+ (one ding for voting to weaken Securities Exchange Commission regulations). Republican Senator John Thune gets an F, failing every test applied by IPS. Rep. Kristi Noem gets a D. As I review IPS's spreadsheet, it appears that the only thing that saved Noem from complete failure was not showing up to vote for the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act, which would have averted military cuts by cutting assistance to the poor, and not signing on as a co-sponsor to a corporate tax holiday bill.

Put Johnson, Thune, and Noem together, and South Dakota gets a GPA of 1.4, a D+. 12 states' Congressional delegations got worse grades, including neighboring Nebraska (0.9) and Wyoming (0.8). However, that bad grade runs opposite South Dakota's Gini score: according to IPS's data, South Dakota ties Idaho with the 44th lowest level of income inequality in the nation.

p.s.: Did I mention that Matt Varilek, that nice fellow who wants to replace Kristi Noem in Congress, worked for that nice income-equality-minded Senator Johnson for a fair chunk of the 112th Congress during which Johnson scored that B+? Given that economic development was a big chunk of Varilek's portfolio, Varilek must have had a little something to do with Johnson's strong score in income equality.


  1. Steve Sibson 2012.10.03

    The ISP:

    Scandals have repeatedly exploded around the very foundations of the Institute for Policy Studies. But it has so penetrated Washington's circles of radical legislators, congressional aides, government agencies, academics, and the media that the IPS not only continues to function but also to attract fresh recruits.

    The scandals include federal domestic security investigations during the late 1960s and early 1970s revealing IPS's more than passing involvement with leaders of the violently revolutionary Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the race hatred of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee(they always have such nice-sounding names, don't they?). The latter included Ralph Featherstone, who left this world rapidly one evening when the bomb he was holding in his lap exploded before he could plant it at the Maryland courthouse where H. Rap Brown faced charges of incitement to riot. Then there were the investigations of the intimate connections of key IPS members with such hostile foreign powers as Cuba and North Vietnam. There were the investigations of the relationship between prominent IPS associates, the terrorist Weathermen, and Cuba. There was a federal indictment of IPS co-founder Marcus Raskin for draft-evasion conspiracy. And there was the direct involvement of IPS members including Leonard Rodberg in dissemination of the Pentagon Papers stolen by Daniel Ellsberg from the Rand Corporation.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.03

    Steve, IPS also offered early criticism of globalization and multinational corporations. History argument negated, above report card on specific Congressional votes stands. (And you love voting report cards!)

  3. Bill Fleming 2012.10.03

    Speaking of report cards, Sibby still hasn't told us whether or not he'll be a witness in the RoboCall case (RoboGate?) Come on, Sib. Time to come clean. Is you is? Or is you ain't, baby?

  4. Steve Sibson 2012.10.03

    No surprised Fleming does not support First Amendment civil rights.

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