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 Sen. Mark Begich, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and the Coast Guard, speaks during the testimony of U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., commandant of the Coast Guard, at a hearing in Washington, D.C, April 23, 2013. Papp discussed the Coast Guard fiscal year 2014 budget.

More of this, please. Here's Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), telling Greg Sargent why he's running on Social Security in his re-election campaign—not just to protect the program, but to expand it.
"When you tell seniors, 'We want to make sure your dollars rise as your costs do,' there is automatic excitement because they recognize we understand what they're going through," Begich told me today. "Are we for or against helping seniors have a dignified life in their later years? I'm for that."

Begich noted that the Republicans vying in a primary to face him either support Chained CPI, or voted for the Ryan budget to cut entitlements, or were backed by outside groups that want to cut Social Security. He added that calling for expanding benefits would sharpen the contrast with them: "They would reduce the benefits of seniors. I'm working to make sure benefits are preserved and increased to reflect the costs seniors face."

Begich added that he'd campaign on the issue, and pointed to a strong local angle. "One in nine Alaskans receives Social Security in one form or another," he said. "This is good politics and policy. It puts fairness back into the cost of living adjustments. It says to seniors, 'We recognize adjustments do not recognize the cost increases that you have had.' I will talk about it a lot."

I wonder what Third Way thinks of one of their vaunted moderates—whom they claim they are so concerned with protecting—bucking their advice to put the hurt on the olds. Begich, like a lot of real Democrats, recognizes both the political advantage and the policy—not to mention moral—imperative to keep the nation's promise to older Americans.

That's just smart, and maybe even smarter in a potentially tough race in a state like Alaska than the Third Way's prescription, which is to bow down to the austerity fetishists and Wall Street.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 12:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by Pushing back at the Grand Bargain, Social Security Defenders, and Daily Kos.

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