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‘View from the top’: Sen. Thune first speaker in Huron Young Professionals’ series

Posted: Saturday, Aug 23rd, 2014

South Dakota Sen. John Thune speaks at the Top Floor Thursday afternoon during the Huron Young Professionals inaugural ‘View from the Top” which is a new professional development series. In the next photo, Thune also took time Thursday to talk with those attending including Rev. Alex Haines (left) and Bush Fullerton (center). PHOTOS BY SEAN M.X. KELLEY/PLAINSMAN

HURON — If Republicans win control of the Senate in November. they will return the chamber to regular working order, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Thursday.

The 10-year veteran of the Senate said South Dakota voices are not being heard in Washington, D.C., because of a dysfunctional body.

“We are not a functioning institution any more,” Thune said at a luncheon hosted by the Huron Young Professionals at Top Floor Events.

“All that takes is a behavioral change,” he said.

No matter which party takes control of the Senate this fall, it will be a narrow majority, he said.

In his remarks, Thune talked about the importance of focusing on creating jobs and growing the economy. He said a barrage of regulations and proposed rules coming from the Environmental Protection Agency are crippling those efforts. And he said Americans should be alarmed about so many violent threats to their way of life.

“The world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place,” he said.

Islamic extremists in Iraq are strong and sophisticated and have the capability of striking U.S. interests.

“If you cower to them, they will own you,” Thune said. “They won’t stop until they destroy us.

“These are people who hate everything that we are about and want to destroy everything that we are about,” he said.

Air strikes have checked their advances, and American military power can be effective, but he said the world community needs to be engaged as well.

In answer to a question, he said he has joined others in Congress in calling for pension reform in the U.S. Postal Service as a way for the struggling agency to save money. Billions in debt, USPS wants to close facilities.

Dakota Central in Huron is once again on the list of mail sorting facilities targeted for closure and consolidation with the Sioux Falls plant.

But it makes more sense to do things that don’t impact day-to-day operations and avoid shutting down facilities that provide vital services to many people, services that they rely particularly in rural areas of the country, he said.

Thune, meanwhile, said job creation and economic growth should be priorities in South Dakota and in Washington, D.C.

“We’ve got historically high levels of debt, astronomical debt,” he said. “When you get to that level, you’re really in the danger zone.

“Our debt is about one to one with our gross economic input on an annual basis. We’ve got to get spending under control.”

Unemployment among young people is twice the national average, while 36 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds are living with their parents.

TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline remains stalled because the administration has yet to make a decision. But it’s an example of something that can get bipartisan support in the House and Senate, Thune said.

It would also reduce the pressure on rail traffic and free up more cars to ship grain to markets, he said.

He said is encouraged about the future of South Dakota, where the unemployment rate is half the national average and the growth rate is twice the national average.

It’s another story in Washington, D.C.

Of 350 bills that have been sent to the Senate, 40 deal with job creation. But they are all collecting dust on the majority leader’s desk, he said.

“We have got to find a way to work together for the good of the country,” Thune said.

“We’ve overcome great things in the past; we can overcome this as well,” he said.

For the complete article see the 08-22-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 08-22-2014 paper.

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