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By Staff | Nov 8, 2013

Is a blizzard more ideologically acceptable for providing disaster aid than a hurricane is to the Tea Party?

Most Tea Party ideologues voted against the $50 billion disaster aid package for Superstorm Sandy victims, including South Dakota House Representative Kristi Noem.

Estimates are that the freak early season blizzard named Atlas caused as much as $1.7 billion in extenuating damage to western South Dakota the weekend of Oct. 4.

The storm started with cold soaking rain followed by 4 to 5 feet of snow driven by 70 top 80 miles per hour winds followed by more soaking rain.

Cattle were herded and then covered by snow and storm, and estimates hold as many as 100,000 head were killed in the event.

Some ranch families lost most of their herds that represent their life work, shared responsibility and primary asset.

Most losses are uninsured. Like Hurricane Sandy, this was an unimaginable perfect storm.

Drovers Cattle Network wrote, “Few producers affected by the storm had insurance to cover losses and the Livestock Indemnity Program, designed to compensate producers, expired with the 2008 farm bill.

“A retroactive LIP could be included in the updated farm bill, but until then, that state’s economy will be affected.”

As ranching is the primary industry in much of this area it will be damaging to the rural economy impacting many who did not lose cattle but will suffer indirect economic loss.

I think that the country is a family that should respond through the federal government to these kinds of disasters, and I personally thought that it was petty and small for the Tea Party to have penalized the New Jersey shore in their ideological battle to control Washington and that it was pretty easy for Representatives way out here in the heartland like Kristi Noem to smugly turn their backs on disaster victims far from their home and districts.

There was no federal government at the time of the South Dakota blizzard as Noem had voted to shut that down, too.

I am going to take a bet that many of Noem’s constituents likely supported her “no” vote on Hurricane Sandy. Maybe the blizzard was God’s way of enlightenment to what their Christian duty really is?

They always justify opposition to disaster aid bills because they contain provisions that are somehow unacceptable, as full of pork. Certainly that has been done, but much of the time this is just an excuse that they can hide behind to show how “fiscally responsible” they are to fellow conservatives.

I don’t think that Sandy aid was as bloated as these bills have been. I take the word of Chris Christie. I would expect that the storm in South Dakota changed many lives as well, and the perspective on life for many others. I believe that that includes Kristi Noem as she reflects on her votes and attitude.

This Tea Party ideology can be pretty cold and heartless when taken to extremes as they do. This wasn’t about being fiscally conservative but about turning your back on your neighbor. She turned hers on the Jersey shore. Now she thinks that South Dakota deserves federal aid.

One could easily see that as being hypocritical.

It is at least an offshoot of the Golden Rule, “Don’t go asking for something from others that you weren’t willing to give them when they asked you.”

The Washington Post noted that, “A week ago, Noem went to the floor of the House of Representative to recount a story she heard from a South Dakota rancher:

“‘He found what he called the trail of death, about 200 of his 600 cows were dead leading up to and throughout a draw.’ Noem insists that the federal government help these ranchers due to the unprecedented’nature of the blizzard that blew through her state.

“She’s at the front of the line asking the federal government for money to help victims of South Dakota’s early-October blizzard.

“It appears that Noem is against federal spending until she’s for it. And, that’s her biggest problem. It’s hard to justify spending when your own constituents are hurting, when you oppose it when others are hurting.”

The Tea Party is not going to make an exception for one of their own. They are going to turn their back on South Dakota and Noem’s request, opposing additional federal aid, too.

They are true blue to their ideology. Noem also voted to cut the more extreme $39 billion from SNAP spending so she is saving money providing less food assistance to low-income people, while she wants more aid for South Dakota ranchers.

It seems to me that a lot of inconsistency in positions exists.

That is taking care of your own, if you have a very narrow view of who is your own, so as not to include people from Jersey or on food assistance.

I hope that their efforts are successful. I don’t think that the effort eliminates the role of government.

I hope that those damaged by the epic snow storm get the financial help that they need to rebuild their lives.

I also hope that Kristi Noem, who is a good friend of agriculture, learned something from this experience.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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