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Ok, so I know a lot of us are upset about the recent proposal President Obama presented to John Boehner (R. OH) as part of a "grand bargain".  Now it is comforting to hear Senate Democrats like Dick Durbin (D. IL) say that Senate Democrats won't support the Chained CPI portion of this new proposal and I called my Senators, Barbara Boxer (D. CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D. CA) urging them to not support cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  Boxer's office assured me she won't and I haven't been able to get through to Feinstein's people yet but I will.  I also left a message for my home state Senator Bob Casey (D. PA) and I called Durbin's office to urge him the same thing.  I also called Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D. NH), Bernie Sanders (I. VT), Sherrod Brown (D. OH), Tom Harkin (D. IA) and Jay Rockefeller (D. WV) to thank them for standing strong and I even told Mark Warner's (D) office not to support this either.  I will be calling other Senators today.  But the one Senator I called today that offered advice was Senator Mark Begich (D. AK).

I've written quite a bit about Senator Begich because he is my top incumbent I plan on fighting for in 2014.  I love beating Republicans on their home turf and Begich is not afraid to take some tough votes this coming year:

Begich says he assured Reid before the 2012 elections that he is ready to take hard votes and that the leader doesn't have to worry about putting him in a tough spot. Even so, said a confident Begich, he likes where he is two years out from the election. - CNN, 11/14/12
One of the boldest moves Begich has made is his proposal to strengthen Social Security known as the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act:

Entitled the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, the bill extends the solvency of Social Security for approximately 75 years by requiring higher-income Americans to pay Social Security on their earnings all year long and adjusting the formula for cost-of-living increases to better reflect the needs of our seniors and persons with disabilities. - Alaska Native News, 11/14/12
Here is the actual plan so you can read about it:

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Now here are the highlights of what Begich's proposal does to strengthen Social Security:

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

“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
Begich's bill has received great support from Alaskan seniors, 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
Begich brought his proposal to the Senate floor where he made a strong argument that Social Security does not contribute to the deficit:

"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
Begich's office instructed me to call my Senator to get them to back this bill.  I plan on doing just that.  Not only should we be urging our representatives in the Senate to not vote for cuts to Social Security, we should also be urging them to strengthen it.  By pushing for Begich's proposal, we make the strong case that Social Security doesn't contribute to the deficit and by putting this proposal in the spotlight, it makes Obama's proposal look senseless.  Yes, Boehner rejected Obama's proposal but Obama seems determined to push for a "grand bargain" whereas I think we should just go off the "fiscal cliff".  By helping gain support for this bill, Senate Democrats not only can push back against cuts to the safety net, we can also push for a strong plan to strengthen Social Security.  it make Democrats and Social Security advocates look serious about preserving the program and strengthening it for cute generations.  Here is what we need to do first:

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.: - America Blog, 11/19/12

I applaud Senator Begich's boldness and will remember this when 2014 comes up when he runs for re-election.  Lets not only fight back against cuts to the safety net, lets make strengthening Social Security a reality.

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:47 AM PST.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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