Washington Report: The Battle to Save the Farm | editorial

The long, sun-kissed summer days are getting shorter and for children across the country that can only mean one thing: back to school. In suburbs or seaside towns, the end of summer can mean the end of family trips to the beach or days by the pool. But sadly, for farming families in South Dakota, it means they have to help out with the seemingly endless chores of summer.

Picking stones with your sister, moving cows, fixing fences with grandpa, and spending long days in the field at lunch – and probably dinner – in the cab of a tractor are the norm for most farm children in the summer. Her parents and her parents’ parents probably did the same – even without the luxury of an air-conditioned taxi. From an early age in rural America, children are taught to understand the value of a hard day at work. Nobody thinks twice about getting their hands dirty. It’s exactly what the generations before them have worked so hard through all the ups and downs that go on a family business.

If you grew up in a rural community like the one scattered across South Dakota, you might be surprised to find the Washington Democrats are now proposing tax cuts for the coastal elites and all the free stuff you can think of doing by doing these Way of life – your way of life – tax. It becomes clear that for the Washington Democrats, success and hard work should not be celebrated but taxed.

Our current tax law provides for a so-called “step-up-in basis”. This is Washington jargon for this: if a deceased loved one left you something – be it a property or a house – the value of that item will automatically “increase” from its original value to its current market value when you receive it. You and you shouldn’t have to pay any tax on this increase. These gains over time are often not realized. So you did not benefit from the increase in value as long as the assets remained in the family. It enables your grandparents and parents to pass the family business on from one generation to the next without penalty. Unfortunately, the Democrats want to get rid of this longstanding tax policy, but not when I’m up to it.

During my time in Congress, I helped lead the fight against the death tax. And now I’m doing the same thing with a double death tax on South Dakota’s family businesses, ranches, and small businesses.

I recently tabled an amendment to the Democrats’ draft budget to emphasize the importance of preventing the passage of this double death tax. It was passed 99-0 and I am glad that all of my Democratic colleagues have recognized how problematic this legislative change could be, but don’t let your vote fool you. Unfortunately, all but one of the Democrats voted in favor of a watered-down version immediately after my bipartisan amendment was passed. Long story short, they do legislative gymnastics and try to get both of them and if they get their way it will undoubtedly be a death knell for the rural South Dakota communities.

Well, summer time in these rural communities is not all work and not play. There are 4-H and Rodeo, fairs to showcase art, products and livestock. Maybe there is also a baseball or softball game. But the fun things usually come after the day’s chores are done. Life is usually about family and community, and it is all underpinned by hard work and sacrifice.

Agriculture and animal husbandry are not just a profession, but an attitude to life for the whole family that one can be proud of. And for me, the Washington Democrats could learn some of these lessons from the heartland.

This fight is far from over. I will continue to do everything in my power to stop the Democrats from trying to fund a ruthless tax and spending frenzy on hard-working families, farmers and ranchers in South Dakota. The South Dakota way of life and maintaining the family farm are certainly something to fight for. I’ll always.