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I have written quite a bit about Senator Mark Begich (D. AK).  Begich has joined Senators Al Franken (D. MN), Tom Udall (D. NM), Jon Tester (D. MT), Max Baucus (D. MT) and Sherrod Brown (D. OH) in overturning the Supreme Court's decision regarding Citizens United and about his bold, progressive plan to strengthen Social Security known as the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act:

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 the actual plan:
The Alaskan AARP and the coalition to strengthen Social Security have endorsed Begich's plan:
“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
I keep bringing Begich's plan up because 1. it's a great plan to strengthen Social Security and 2. Democrats should abandon the idea of cuts to Social Security and Medicare in hopes of getting any new tax increases.  As Joan McCarter recently highlighted that Senator Chuck Schumer (D. NY) is trying to throw earned benefits cuts and safety net cuts into the mix:

There are several reasons why Obama and Democrats cannot agree to these types of cuts, especially as Markos pointed out that Republicans will certainly use these cuts against Democrats in 2014 midterms:

Markos has also highlighted that Obama failed to win over senior voters which is a good chunk of voters that Democrats should be aiming for when the 2014 midterms come around.  Don't get me wrong, we need to get our base to the polls as well but our base doesn't always turn out in large numbers during midterm elections and lets face it, old people always vote.  Every election, they are at the polls.  Sure, the GOP could piss voters off so much that they have their asses handed to them like they did in the 2006 midterms but Democrats can't rely on that alone.  

Democrats campaigned on preserving the safety net and campaigning against insane austerity plans like the Paul Ryan Budget.  Yes there are Democrats who are too fixated on the deficit and there Democrats who would do the bidding of Wall Street but there are Democrats who are serious about preserving the safety net and won't vote for draconian cuts.  Begich is one of them and it makes sense why he wouldn't vote for these types of cuts.  He hails from a red state that has a large senior citizen electorate and he has to look out for them.  Begich knows that Republicans want to take him out and would happily use cuts to Social Security against Begich.  So his bold plan is evidence to me that he is serious about preserving Social Security and that he is really looking out for his constituents.  Not to mention, Begich has stated the obvious 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

Even Max Baucus knows that and Montana has a lot of older voters in the state:

“Social Security benefits are financed only through payroll taxes and the Trust Fund,” Baucus (left) said during a hearing held by his committee entitled “Perspectives on Deficit Reduction: Social Security.” Social Security, he continued, “is not responsible for the deficits we face in the general fund today. Therefore, I believe Social Security should not be part of our efforts to reduce those deficits.” - Advisor One, 5/10/11
If the entire Democratic Party adopted Begich's plan, they can successfully paint themselves as the party looking out for not only future generations but also for grandma and grandpa.  Paint the Republicans as the party that wants to give the finger to grandma and grandpa and I guarantee you they will flock to the Democrats.

So here's what you can do to get your Democratic representative on board with Begich's plan:

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

So if you want to put pressure on Democrats to not agree to any cuts to Social Security or Medicare, urge them to support Begich's plan because it will when them over the senior vote.  That's my two cents.

And in other Begich related news, Begich received his first major endorsement for re-election:

The Alaska AFL-CIO endorsed the Democrat this week, more than a year and a half before voters go to the polls.

“Senator Begich has shown time and time again that he cares about Alaska’s workforce. He values hard work and wants to make sure that good jobs come to Alaska, and stay in Alaska,” said Alaska AFL-CIO president Vince Beltrami in a statement.

The AFL-CIO represents more than 50,000 workers in the state. - KTOO, 1/24/13

And even though he might be going up against Begich in 2014, Tea Party wild card, Joe Miller, recently stopped by Begich's office to thank him for nominating his son to a military academy:

"You never know who will stop by the office," Begich wrote on a Facebook post accompanying a picture of the two.

Begich, running in the heavily Republican state, could be a top GOP target this cycle. But if Miller wins the Republican nomination, the senator would likely be in much better shape, as Miller is seen by many in Alaska as outside the mainstream.

Murkowski and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) also backed Miller's son for the academy, and he stopped by to thank them as well. A Murkowski spokesman said the two had a "friendly Alaska conversation." - The Hill, 1/25/13

Very classy I must say.  You can donate or get involved with Begich's re-election campaign here:

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 03:18 PM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Social Security Defenders.

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