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UPDATE: Just received word from Begich's legislative assistant, Diane Disanto.  She has told me that Begich has met with both Senators Bernie Sanders (I. VT) and Tom Harkin (D. IA) and it sounds like they are on board and working things out on this bill.  They told me they need more co-sponsors, both Democrats and Republicans.  Begich has also met with Senator Roy Blunt's (R. MO) office to discuss this bill.  I don't know which Republicans will be on board with this bill but I think Senators Mark Kirk (R. IL), Lisa Murkowski (R. AK) and Susan Collins (R. ME) would be our best bets.  More updates to come!

Good Friday to you all.  So of course I am disappointed and concerned about the sequester cuts that are going to take place.  It's awful that we go to this point.  But I woke this morning reading Laura Clawson's diary about the fate of Social Security.  You should give it a read:

Of course the Chained CPI is still being discussed as part of a gran bargain to help balance the budget but of course all of us here know that cuts to Social Security won't help decrease the deficit because as Senator Mark Begich (D. AK) stated on the Senate floor, 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

Emphasis Mine.

Even Senator Max Baucus (D. MT) made the case back in 2011 that Social Security doesn't contribute to the deficit because by law, it has to stay separate from the federal budget:

“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
Now these two red state Democrats, who I don't always see eye to eye with, understand this perfectly.  They know that cuts to Social Security would be political suicide for them because they live in rural states with high senior citizen populations.  Both Begich and Baucus are both up for re-election and they know that in a midterm election, elderly voters come out to vote in good sizes.  So if Democrats want to secure their 2014 re-election victories and even pick up seats in the House, Senate and local offices, the best thing to do would be to get behind the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act of 2013 that was reintroduced by Begich and now has Congressman Ted Deutch (D. FL-21) in the House proposing similar legislation.  Here's the bill:
Here's an overview of the plan:
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

I know I have written a lot about this plan before and I vowed that any time there was a mention of Social Security cuts on the Daily Kos I would bring up this plan.  I am growing optimistic because Begich has reintroduced it and has Deutch as an ally in the House.  I for one think this should be the entire Democratic Party's plan when it comes to Social Security.  I wrote about it again on Tuesday because Congressman Deutch is spreading a petition to get people to urge congress to support his and Begich's plan.  You can sign his petition here:

The Republicans will make the Democrats own any cuts to the safety net and if they want to ensure victories in 2014 and 2016, they not only need to get their base out to vote, they need to win over senior citizens.  The Democrats are the party that gave us Social Security and they must be reminded that it is their job to protect and strengthen President Roosevelet's legacy.  

I called Senator Begich's office to thank him for reintroducing this bold plan and asked if there was any way I could help build support for it on the Daily Kos and what all actions we can take to push it.  His aide was very helpful and gave me the email to his legislative assistant, Diane DiSanto, who was in a meeting at the time of my call but wants me to contact her so she can help me gain more support for this bill and make it front and center for more people.  I will e-mail her today and once I get a response from her I will be posting a diary about it soon.  In the mean time, I suggest you all call Senator Begich and Congressman Deutch to thank them for not only fighting to protect Social Security but for also making the argument to strengthen it.  They need to hear your support so they can keep on fighting:

Begich: 202-224-3004
Deutch: 202-225-3001

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 09:09 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Income Inequality Kos, Social Security Defenders, and Invisible People.

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