Congresswoman-Elect Kristi Noem on GOP's Priorities

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 19, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: All right, after a historic midterm election Republicans are wasting no time pushing forward with their Pledge to America. Now the party has already taken steps to extend Bush tax cuts, ban earmarks, ditch Pelosi's plane and they are just getting started.

Now yesterday the Republican leadership team was announced. They laid out their plan to get the country back on track and who they are putting in place to lead them there.


HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO: We have a team that represents the broad consensus of our party, the broad diversity of our party. And I'm looking forward to working with them on dealing with the priorities that the American people have sent us here to deal with.


HANNITY: And two incoming freshmen House members who are on the leadership team from South Dakota Kristi Noem and from South Carolina Tim Scott. And one of them joins me now: Congresswoman-elect Kristi Noem.

Kristi, welcome back. Thanks for being with us.

CONGRESSWOMAN-ELECT KRISTI NOEM, R-S.D.: Thank you for having me, Sean.

HANNITY: All right, it's symbolic, but we've been talking a little bit about this week. Ditching Pelosi's plane. Moratorium on earmarks. Promises to introduce spending cuts every week for, what, I believe the first 12, 13 weeks. Is that the plan?

NOEM: That's the plan. I think that you see this party and this Republican Party coming together to make sure that we're going to deliver some real results for the American people.

HANNITY: What does it mean to you as an incoming freshman congresswoman that you're tapped for leadership? That they reached out and you pretty were accepted and supported by the Tea Party movement. What do you -- does that send a signal? How do you interpret that? How should people interpret that?

NOEM: Well, I believe in fiscal responsibility. And I think that's one of the reasons that I got a lot of Tea Party support back in South Dakota. You know -- and the freshman class got to choose two representatives to sit at the leadership table to be there for the important discussions that are going to happen on policy and the agenda for the next two years.

So it meant a lot to me that my class would choose me to be their voice. I think they did that because they believe I'll be effective for them, that I'll be a strong voice at the table. We've got a large class, it's historic in size. And we're going to need good representation there to make sure that our voice is heard.

HANNITY: All right, so we're heading into this lame-duck session. One of the biggest issue that is going to be dealt with seems to be the extension of the Bush tax cuts. Now there are all these reports, the left-leaning Politico, for example, reporting that Democrats and their caucus sessions, there's a lot of finger-pointing, a lot of anger expressed towards Barack Obama.

Barack Obama apparently feels aloof and is still blaming the communications efforts as being the failure, not the policies themselves. What should the strategy in this lame-duck session be by the Republicans if they don't want to extend tax cuts for everybody?

NOEM: Well, I think the Republicans need to hold firm to do what's right by the American people. We've talked about the fact and I've taken the position throughout my campaign and into the future that we need to extend these tax cuts permanently. And especially for small businesses. They need the certainty that that provides so that they can reinvest and hire workers and put them back to work. That's what our economy needs.

So I think Republicans need to be firm in their stance. They need to do what's right by the American people and give them the benefit of not raising their taxes during one of the toughest recessions many of us have seen in our lifetimes.

HANNITY: If the president and the Democrats go to push for a permanent extension of the middle class tax cuts or raising taxes on small businesses and the, quote, so-called wealthy, as they play their class warfare game, what would you recommend as a strategy?

NOEM: Well, you know, I'm not in this lame-duck Congress so I don't get the opportunity to come in and really work for the people right now or the people in my home state. So I think that we need to do what we can to limit the damage that this lame-duck Congress can do. And I'd recommend that my party do the same.

HANNITY: All right, the leadership has indicated that the first order of business will be a repeal of health care. Is that -- is that the right priority?

NOEM: Well, I think that that needs to be the right priority going forward. That's something that we need to make sure that this administration is faced with and has sitting in front of them is the possibility of a repeal. That's what we all campaigned on. We all recognize the damage that that is going to do to this country. And it's going to do nothing to lessen the cost of health care or improve health care. It's just going to be burdensome and continue to hold our economy down.

So yes, it's extremely important. We need to follow through on what we said we were going to do when we campaigned.

HANNITY: Look, I do -- I honestly -- symbolism means a lot to me. The moratorium on earmarks is really important. But we all know where the real money is in Washington in terms of where it's being spent and that is in entitlements.

You know, at some point we're going to have to deal with entitlements. What would you suggest -- recommend as a means of reining in entitlement spending and yet keeping the promises that have been made to past generations?

NOEM: Well, you know, Sean, if this was easy we would have had a fix a long time ago. This is a tough situation. And entitlements do cost our country a lot of money. But we need to make sure that we're following through on our commitments to our seniors and those getting close to retirement age.

But when it comes to younger workers, we need to look at other options and give them more choices to make sure that this program remains viable when they get to the age where they can actually utilize it.

HANNITY: And choices meaning choice in opting out of Social Security?

NOEM: I think that there's lots of options and solutions that we can look at and we should look at them. We should get everybody to the table, sit down and have a real discussion, an adult conversation, on how to fix this program. Because we've talked about it for too many years.

HANNITY: All right, Kristi Noem, congratulations. Obviously they see some leadership qualities there. We'll look forward to watching this new Congress when they get in session in January. Appreciate you being with us.

NOEM: Yes, thanks for having me, Sean.

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