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Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (D) decries “a small band of knuckleheads” for “holding the country hostage over the health care law” in a radio ad that will begin running statewide late Tuesday.

The 60-second spot, shared first with POLITICO, laments the federal shutdown and lays the blame at the feet of the Republicans.

“I don’t have to tell you what the big issue in Washington is: it’s the shutdown, and it’s ridiculous,” said the freshman senator. “I voted to keep the government open, but over 8,000 Alaskans have been furloughed. They’re shutting down logging in the national forests. Head Start programs will start closing at the end of the month. Even the King Crab season cannot open without officials to sign off on permits and quarters. All because a small band of knuckleheads are holding the country hostage over the health care law.”

Alaska’s Senate race is certain to be one of the marquee contests of 2014. Begich narrowly won in the red state in 2008, so he’s worked hard to get out front on the inevitable attack ads over his vote for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in 2010.

“I know the law isn’t perfect, but my staff and my family and I will all be on it,” he says in the new ad, referring to the exchanges. “And I’ve been working, for instance, to make it better for small businesses...But we have to stop this endless cycle of threatening the economy every six months just because one side disagrees with the other.”

The state has the third highest percentage of federal employees, behind only Maryland and Hawaii. - Politico, 10/8/13

Begich has been talking a lot about the impact the Tea Party shutdown has been having on the economy:


BEGICH: Well, they are rehashing old battles, and I mean this by the fact that it passed the House, passed the Senate, signed into law. And the Supreme Court ruled on this. And a presidential election was decided with one candidate who lost who wanted to repeal the law. I get that there's a group over there that don't like the law in total. Do I have problems with it? Sure, I do. But I'm happy to work with folks to fix it. That's what you do when you have legislation. But what they want to do is hold this economy hostage for their own political benefit, and people are fed up with this. And I called it Russian roulette economics. That's what they're doing.

And they are - I mean, look at the market today, this week. Over the last five to six days, they've dropped over now 400 points, and that is affecting families who have rebuilt their education accounts, families who have retirements, small businesses that depend on capital to grow their business. They're impacting people for their own personal, political desires rather than what's right for this country. - NPR, 10/3/13

Begich also heavily emphasizes that this whole thing could've been avoided:


Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich said Tuesday it’s time to move on from calls to repeal the federal health care law and instead fix any problems and get on with the business of governing in Washington.

The federal government was partially shut down after the House and Senate failed to agree on a plan for continued government funding.

The Senate rejected proposals passed by the Republican-led House that tacked on delays in implementing all or portions of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

Begich, in an interview, called the shutdown “totally unnecessary,” and said he hoped calmer heads would prevail over the next 24 hours. - Juneau Empire, 10/1/13

Begich and his colleague Senator Lisa Murkowski (R. AK) have donated their salaries to charity:


More than 130 members of Congress are forgoing pay during the government shutdown that’s leaving more than 800,000 thousand federal workers without a paycheck of their own.

That leaves many more congressional leaders—with a total of 535 members between the House and the Senate, well over 400 lawmakers, in fact—still collecting paychecks toward their annual (at least) $174,000 salary.

In a phone interview Friday, Senator Mark Begich said he will donating his pay to Alaska charities or the U.S. Treasury, and said many lawmakers are working with limited staff during the shutdown.

“We have furloughed about 80 percent of our staff. We should not be exempt from the situation that's occurring to our federal employees,” Begich said. “As I've done in the past, every day that we're closed or on shutdown, I take that pay and I donate it… for every day that they're furloughed, I'm setting aside the same amount to be donated to a cause or back to the federal treasury.” - KTVA 11, 10/4/13

Begich might also have to thank insane shutdown cheerleader Senator Ted Cruz (R. TX) for helping boost his re-election chances:


Even in Alaska, it’s making for some strange bedfellows. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell may be the favorite of DC Republicans but he faces a primary challenge from former 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller, who beat Lisa Murkowski in a primary but went on to lose to her as a write-in candidate, and now has a three-way primary with the entrance of former natural resources commissioner Dan Sullivan. Miller has firmly backed Cruz, but Treadwell also, to the surprise of some, pledged he would “stand and work with Cruz and Lee.” - MSNBC, 10/7/13
Treadwell is trying to have his cake and eat while Miller at least is honest about where he stands on the shutdown:
ANCHORAGE, AK - NOVEMBER 01: &nbsp;Joe Miller, the Republican candidate for the Alaskan U.S. Senate seat, stands with supporters on November 1, 2010 in Anchorage, Alaska. A day ahead of U.S. midterm elections, Miller is in a tight three-way race for the Senate seat held by Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who he defeated in the Republican primary in August. &nbsp;(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Tea party favorite Joe Miller, who won the nomination in 2010 but lost to the Republican incumbent in a write-in campaign, has previously advocated shutting down the government as a means to hobble the health care law. His campaign has slammed rivals for not being as firm on the issue.
Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell has said he opposes a shutdown but praised Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and said he would work with him to defund the law.
Dan Sullivan, Alaska&#x27;s natural resources commissioner, gives an overview of Gov. Sean Parnell&#x27;s bill to lower taxes on the oil industry to a Senate committee on oil flowing through the trans-Alaska pipeline on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in Juneau, Alaska. More testimony is planned next week, with the intent of getting the bill to the Senate Resources Committee by Feb. 7. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Dan Sullivan, a former George W. Bush appointee who stepped down as the natural resources commissioner to join the race any time now, has still not said publicly what he thinks. - Politico, 10/8/13
But right now, Begich's main priority is ending the shutdown and getting back to work:
Obstructionists in Washington, D.C. have finally gone over the deep end -- and their totally unnecessary government shutdown is taking its toll on Alaska families.

Thousands of hardworking Alaskans have been furloughed for more than a week.

I went to Washington to make sure the voices of Alaskans are heard. And right now, they’re loud and clear -- this government shutdown needs to end.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas claps before speaking at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the site for the National Rifle Association&#x27;s annual meeting in Houston, Texas May 3, 2013. It is time to stop demonizing all law-abiding gun owners because of violent acts committed by a few criminals, National Rifle Association leaders and political allies said on Friday at its first convention since the Connecticut school massacre. Organizers expect some 70,000 attendees at the 142nd NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Houston, which began on Friday and continues through Sunday. REUTERS/Adrees Latif (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTXZ9K8
Let obstructionists in Congress know where you stand. Urge them to end the government shutdown immediately. Add your name:


For every day this shutdown drags on, thousands of Alaskans can’t get a paycheck. They’re not worried about right or left politics, they’re worried about paying the rent, the mortgage, car payments, tuition, or medical bills.

This shutdown is disrupting the lives of middle class families in Alaska and all across the United States.

Alaskans know better than most that the government needs to cut spending while protecting smart, responsible investments in things like education, Medicare, and Social Security. But this is not the way for anyone to negotiate.

Alaskans want their jobs back. Sign the petition and call for an end to the shutdown now:


This needs to stop now. I’m doing what I can in Washington to get Alaskans back to work.

Thank you for joining me.


You can click here to sign Begich's petition:



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Originally posted to pdc on Wed Oct 09, 2013 at 07:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pushing back at the Grand Bargain, In Support of Labor and Unions, Social Security Defenders, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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