Letters False rumor

To the editor:

After hearing from many constituents across the state, I am writing to correct a false rumor that has been circulating recently.

There is an e-mail circulating which states that members of congress do not pay into Social Security. I wish to clarify the record on this matter.

The content of this e-mail is completely false. Members of Congress DO pay into social Security at the Maximum rate and then receive Social Security benefits at the same age and level as any other citizen.

Members also pay into a pension system that is somewhat similar to that of all other federal employees. While the pension for members of Congress and federal employees is similar to most private industry pension systems, the allegation that participants retire at their same salary is simply not true.

The size of a member of Congress' pension is determined by a number of factors including length of service, age at retirement, their salary level, much like standard pension plans in the private sector.

Over my time in Congress, I have worked to strengthen the Social Security system and create opportunities for employers and individuals to invest in private retirement plans. It is important that we provide incentives for investment so that people are prepared for their golden years.

But again, this e-mail rumor about Congressional pensions has been circulating for some time now. I appreciate you allowing me the opportunity to clear up this misconception.

Tim Johnson

United States Senator

Not one dime collected

To the editor:

On Jan. 23, the Plain Talk published a Between the Lines editorial where David Lias stated his opinion on the food tax repeal.

I, of course, disagreed with many of his conclusions, but the food tax repeal is a substantive issue that deserves serious debate. I appreciate Mr. Lias encouraging that debate with his editorial.� There was however one factual misstatement dealing with the Internet sales tax that has caused some confusion.

Mr. Lias claimed that my vote against SB 76 last year was a vote against taxing Internet sales and therefore a vote against Main Street. The problem was that SB 76 did not create the framework that would allow for a fair tax on Internet purchases. The framework was put into place in 2002 with three different bills: HB 1001, HB 1002, and HB 1003.

I voted in favor of every one of those bills. The only thing SB 76 did was move up the deadline, from whenever the federal government allows the states to collect the tax, to this past January.�

It raised taxes on South Dakota citizens, but has not collected one dime from companies that only deal over the Internet.

I have always strongly supported leveling the playing field for Main Street businesses and will continue to do so.�

As always, if anyone has any questions or opinions on this or any issue, I can be reached at (605) 773-3851 or rep.nesselhuf@state.sd.us.

B.J. Nesselhuf

South Dakota

State Representative

District 17


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