Received a fundraising e-mail from Senator Jon Tester (D. MT).  He is helping his good colleague and Social Security champ, Senator Mark Begich (D. AK) raise money for his re-election campaign:
Montana only gets two Senators. But rural America needs as many voices as possible helping to protect our way of life.

That’s why I’m proud to call Mark Begich a friend -- and why I’m pleased that he’s a Senate colleague. Mark and I have worked together to stand up for veterans, especially those living in rural America. And he’s been a staunch ally in the fight against wasteful spending and the effort to make Washington more transparent.

Mark needs our help right now, because he’s facing a tough re-election fight.


He needs $10,000 by the end of January to build a grassroots network ready to win. Can you help him with $5 or more today?

When I was in Alaska in 2008, I discovered something called the “Montana Club” -- a group of Alaskans who get together every summer to celebrate their shared Montana heritage.

It’s just one of the reasons our states share a bond. Montana is the most beautiful place on Earth -- but Alaska’s pretty stunning, too. And Alaskans and Montanans alike look for leaders who understand the independent spirit that defines our states.

Mark’s that kind of leader. But just as the special interests came after me in 2012, they’re going to come after Mark now. So I hope you’ll stand with him.

Mark is trying to get out ahead of the special interests -- and he needs us. His campaign is $7,180 away from their $10,000 January goal. Contribute $5, or whatever you can, right now.


Thank you.


You can donate to Begich's campaign directly here:


Begich deserves our support for 2014 after introducing a bold and progressive plan to strengthen Social Security known as the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act:


Now here's what the plan calls for:
Increases Benefits for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. Currently, Social Security benefits are adjusted by the Consumer Price Index for workers. However, costs and spending patterns for seniors do not mirror those of the workforce. That is why Sen. Begich’s bill calls for adjusting cost-of-living increases with a Consumer Price Index specifically for the elderly which was created to more accurately measure the costs of goods and services seniors actually buy.

Lifts the Cap on High-Income Contributions. Current law sets a cap based on income at $113,700 for paying into Social Security. If an individual’s wages hit that total for the year, they no longer pay into the program. Sen. Begich’s bill lifts the cap and asks higher income earners to pay Social Security on all their earnings in order to increase the program’s revenue stream and extend the overall solvency of the program.

Extends Social Security for approximately 75 years through modest revenue increases gradually implemented over the course of seven years. - Alaska Native News, 11/14/12

Here's what you can do to help make this bill a reality:
You can help in three ways. (1) Call Senator Begich’s office and thank him. It’s seriously important to let him know that real progressives are behind a real progressive proposal. His DC office number is:

Senator Mark Begich
(202) 224 – 3004
(877) 501 – 6275 (toll-free)

(2) Get behind this bill. If you can publicize it, do. If you can write about it, do. If you can talk about it, do. We need to do our part as well to promote real progressive legislation. The next four years should not be a spectator sport.

(3) Call your senators — both of them — and ask them to co-sign this bill. This needs momentum, and co-signers provide that. The list of Senate phone numbers is here.:

http://www.senate.gov/... - America Blog, 11/19/12

Begich is also a great friend for Native Americans.  He's fighting to assure that Alaskan tribes are being well taken care of:
Alaska's junior senator fired off a letter to President Obama this week that essentially accuses the Indian Health Service of trying to rip off Alaska Natives and American Indians.

Sen. Mark Begich asks for the president's help in "seeing to it" that the agency pays the hundreds of millions of dollars it owes tribal health organizations for unreimbursed administrative costs dating back more than a decade.

"In Alaska alone, three contractors suffered over $218 million in contract support shortfalls reaching as far back as 1997," Begich writes.

He adds that similar amounts are due tribes across the nation. "It is shocking that the agency would now delay justice, call for new audits, or seek 15 years later to renegotiate the amounts that were due at the time." - Alaska Dispatch, 11/30/12

Republicans are lining up to take out Begich.  Two big names mentioned for running are wealthy Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell (R. AK):
The 2014 Senate race in Alaska is one of the Senate contests popping early, as Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) last week announced he was forming an exploratory committee for a potential run against Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.

Treadwell, who made an early entrance to the race, could be a strong opponent. He is considered a somewhat moderate Republican, though he is socially conservative. - National Journal, 12/7/12

And Tea Party Wild Card and failed U.S. Senate candidate, Joe Miller (R):
Miller is making calls about another Senate bid, and has not yet signaled whether he'll run. But he published a post on his website (written by someone named Matt Johnson, identified as a freelance writer, consultant, and political activist) after Treadwell's announcement attacking the LG on having the "wrong ideas," including belief in global warming.

"Yeah, Treadwell is the anointed candidate of the Republican establishment," he writes. "So was Romney. How'd that work out for us?" - National Journal, 12/7/12

It will be highly entertaining to see Treadwell duke it out with the Wild Card in the GOP Primary:

By the way, here's the latest news on Miller, in case you haven't heard:


William Fulton is an FBI informant for the Schaeffer Cox militia trial. He made headlines in Oct 2010 for handcuffing Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger. May 30, 2012
SEATTLE -- Now that the mole who helped bring down the leadership of the Alaska Peacemaker Militia has talked publicly, the big question on some minds in Alaska is: Why was federal FBI informant William Fulton involved in political campaigns?

The controversy has erupted over the past few days, as it emerged that Fulton, an Anchorage military surplus store owner who helped gather evidence against militia leader Schaeffer Cox, had helped manage the unsuccessful campaign of right-wing former radio host Eddie Burke for lieutenant governor in 2010. He also provided a controversial security detail for U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller that year -- all while penetrating Alaska’s far-right fringes as part of the Cox investigation.

Fulton, who has since left Alaska to avoid the chance of reprisals stemming from his FBI work, insists that federal law enforcement agents had no involvement in his political activity and in fact were uncomfortable when they learned of it.

The issue has caused a brouhaha of sorts in Alaska, with the Alaska Dispatch asking, "Should the FBI have kept a tighter leash on its militia mole?"

The controversy is tied in large part to Fulton’s work on a security detail for a campaign event  for Miller, who was running on a tea party platform. - Los Angeles Times, 1/14/13

Right-wing Super PACs like FreedomWorks are also eyeing Begich's seat and will spend big to defeat him:


Matt Kibbe, the president and CEO of FreedomWorks, emphasized that his group will only get involved in a primary against a sitting GOP senator if the challenger has shown he or she has the “right skills.”

His group’s focus will be on finding conservatives who can win the chance to face Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) in general-election match-ups.

“We’re looking at all of these potential Senate primary challenges,” he said. “Who is the Republican candidate who will take on the incumbent in Arkansas and Alaska? We want to repopulate the Republican Party with people who want to balance the budget.” - The Hill, 1/16/13

But there are still a few good reasons to be optimistic about how and why we can hold onto this seat in a state like Alaska:
Alaska GOP consultant Andrew Halcro thinks Republicans are underestimating Begich's chances due to the state's red hue. Halcro said Begich has been "solid on all Alaska issues." Begich has worked on developing the state's resources and opening up drilling (though Halcro pointed to Begich's support for the Affordable Care Act as his one possible "Achilles heel" vote).
One other factor worth noting as the race gears up: Alaska is undoubtedly still a red state, but as the New York Times' Nate Silver pointed out this week, President Obama lost it by 14 points rather than the 22 points he lost by in 2008. Yes, Sarah Palin was on the ballot in 2008, but Al Gore also lost the state by 31 points back in 2000. Among other factors, Silver notes that Alaska is getting a substantial population influx from liberal states like California, Washington, and Oregon. It may not be enough for Democrats to win on the presidential level in the near future, but won't hurt Begich in his reelection bid. - National Journal, 12/7/12
There's nothing sweeter than defeating Republicans on their home turf and what better way to stick it to the GOP than to help a strong Democratic defender of Social Security win re-election.  Show Begich some love and help him get re-elected:

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 03:00 PM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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