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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15:  Senate Budget Committee member Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) questions Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf during a full committee hearing on Capitol Hill November 15, 2011 in Washington, DC. Elmendorf presented the committee with the CBO's fiscal and legislative policy options for increasing economic growth and employment in 2012 and 2013, including increased aid to the unemployed, tax credits to lower and middle income households and reducing employees' payroll taxes.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
On Thursday, December 6th, U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D. AK) went to the Senate floor to explain and promote his plan to strengthen Social Security known as Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act:


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http://alaska-native-news.com/...

The bill, S. 3651, extends the solvency of Social Security by changing the way cost-of-living increases are calculated and by eliminating the income cap that currently limits what higher-income Americans contribute in a given year.

Begich emphasized that with no changes, Social Security will be solvent until 2033. That is why, he said in his speech, the program should not be considered for cuts during deficit-reduction talks and why no one should be talking about increasing the retirement age.

“This bill isn’t just about providing our seniors the security they need and deserve, it’s about common-sense fiscal planning,” Begich said. “By creating a more fair and balanced system, we can increase benefits to our seniors, extend the solvency of the program, and give so many Alaskans peace of mind for their future.” - Alaska Native News, 12/7/12
Here's an excerpt from Begich's speech on the Senate floor:

"Mr. President, a few weeks ago back home in Anchorage, I joined a group of seniors I presented this piece of legislation to them at the Anchorage Senior Center and she says she loves to describe herself as a "young woman from Alaska" stood up.  Beverly Moore, an 81-year old Korean War Navy veteran.  Beverly was there because the majority of her modest income comes from Social Security.  And she wanted to know how this proposal will strengthen that lifeline for her and thousands of Alaskans.  In fact, one in nine Alaskans receive Social Security.  With my states population of those 65 and older expanding rapidly, Social Security will continue to play a key role in supplementing a decent living.  If Social Security was not there for the elderly Alaskans, a fifth of them would live below poverty.  It's vital for our state, it's vital for all our states and for this whole country.  Mr. President I have no illusions that this bill is going to pass in the final weeks of this 112th congress but I wanted to get it into the mix.  I wanted to make sure people got the bigger point and again I would say to my residing officer and says this well and I know my friend here from Oregon who is on the floor also as we talk about the deficit that has taken center stage right now, we want to highlight one very clear thing: Social Security has not contributed, is not part of and never will contribute to the deficit.  So those who like to meddle in it and try to combine it into this deficit talk are just playing games with our seniors and disabled in this country." - U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D. AK), 12/7/12

Emphasis Mine.

Here's what the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act proposes:

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

The bill has been endorsed by the Strengthen Social Security Coalition and the Alaskan chapter of the AARP:
“Sen. Begich’s bill serves the American people well in very important ways,” said Eric Kingson, co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition. “By asking high-income people to pay the same payroll tax contribution as everyone else, he dramatically improves the financing of Social Security. By improving the accuracy of the cost of living adjustment, he assures that seniors and people with disabilities will be able to maintain their standard of living as time goes on.” - Alaska Native News, 11/14/12
America Blog offers suggestions about what you can do to help get congress behind Begich's proposal:

http://americablog.com/...

What you can do

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 up for re-election in 2014 and Republicans are lining up to unseat him.  He is going to be a top target of the GOP, Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party movement and outside group, right-wing Super PACs.  We need decent public servants like Begich who fight to strengthen the safety net to stay in the Senate.  Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell (R) has already put together an exploratory committee for a Senate run and Tea Party favorite, Joe Miller, is also looking to make a run.  Give Begich a head start for 2014:
https://secure.actblue.com/...

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