I have a number of reasons why I will be fighting for Begich's re-election but you can now add his continued opposition to congressional pay raises to the list of reasons: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
Begich spokeswoman Amy Miller said Begich's Facebook post set the record for the most likes, comments and shares he's had on any post, with many of the commenters opposed to a congressional pay raise.I have also mentioned Begich's bold plan to preserve Social Security several times in my past diaries but here's a quick reminder and outline of his plan titled the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act:
Miller said in an email that under the present circumstances, "it just doesn't sit right with people for members of Congress to be getting pay raises when substantial issues are unresolved, so many elected officials refuse to compromise and work together, and things are still tough in the economy." - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 1/1/13
The bill has been endorsed by the Strengthen Social Security Coalition and the Alaskan chapter of the AARP. My goal is to help Senator Begich bring this plan to the big spotlight this year and to help gain support for it in the Senate. Here are ways we can achieve that: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
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:Now the latest fiscal cliff deal doesn't have any proposed cuts to Social Security but the battle to defend it is still not over. But if there is one Senator I trust the most in continuing to oppose cuts to Social Security, it's Mark Begich. Here's Begich on the Senate floor making the case for his bill:
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
"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
Republicans are lining up to take out Begich and one big name eying for Begich's seat is wealthy Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell (R. AK):
But don't think that Treadwell is a sure thing because Tea Party loser Joe Miller (R) is eying at another shot at the Senate and could succeed at securing the nominee again:The 2014 Senate race in Alaska is one of the Senate contests popping early, as Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) last week announced he was forming an exploratory committee for a potential run against Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.
Treadwell, who made an early entrance to the race, could be a strong opponent. He is considered a somewhat moderate Republican, though he is socially conservative. - National Journal, 12/7/12
Ouch, the last thing Treadwell wants to be compared to, especially in the GOP primary is this guy:Miller is making calls about another Senate bid, and has not yet signaled whether he'll run. But he published a post on his website (written by someone named Matt Johnson, identified as a freelance writer, consultant, and political activist) after Treadwell's announcement attacking the LG on having the "wrong ideas," including belief in global warming.
"Yeah, Treadwell is the anointed candidate of the Republican establishment," he writes. "So was Romney. How'd that work out for us?" - National Journal, 12/7/12
Alaska GOP consultant Andrew Halcro thinks Republicans are underestimating Begich's chances due to the state's red hue. Halcro said Begich has been "solid on all Alaska issues." Begich has worked on developing the state's resources and opening up drilling (though Halcro pointed to Begich's support for the Affordable Care Act as his one possible "Achilles heel" vote).Even Miller's website acknowledges that Begich is too well-liked in Alaska and would be a real challenge in 2014:
One other factor worth noting as the race gears up: Alaska is undoubtedly still a red state, but as the New York Times' Nate Silver pointed out this week, President Obama lost it by 14 points rather than the 22 points he lost by in 2008. Yes, Sarah Palin was on the ballot in 2008, but Al Gore also lost the state by 31 points back in 2000. Among other factors, Silver notes that Alaska is getting a substantial population influx from liberal states like California, Washington, and Oregon. It may not be enough for Democrats to win on the presidential level in the near future, but won't hurt Begich in his reelection bid. - National Journal, 12/7/12
And like what we saw in red states like Montana and North Dakota this past year, Native American GOTV efforts will be essential to Begich's re-election. Luckily for Begich, he has landed a position on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee:First, Mark Begich is, without doubt, the most savvy politician in the state. Second, the whole government-media-complex will work tirelessly to make sure their golden boy wins re-election. Third, he will have David Axelrod and the whole ‘Chicago Machine’ at his disposal. And last, but not least, his secret weapon: unlike most politicians, people actually like this guy. - JoeMiller.us, 12/2/12
Even before Begich was selected to serve on the committee, he has been a strong voice for Alaskan Native American tribes:Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is expected to serve on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee during the upcoming Congress.
The Democratic Steering Committee on Wednesday released the anticipated committee assignments for Democratic senators. The list is subject to approval by the Democratic caucus and approval of an organizing resolution by the Senate.
Begich's office, in a news release, says the assignment will allow him to gain "an even more significant role in advocating for Alaska's first peoples." - Anchorage Daily News, 12/12/12
I feel confident in Begich's chances of winning re-election in 2014 but it's only possible if he we help give him the right fuel to help generate a strong voter turnout in Alaska. Begich's support for the public option, protecting civil liberties, strengthening Social Security, fighting for Native Americans in the Senate and being a loud opponent to congressional pay raises proves he is a true public servant who truly listens to and represents his constituents. There's no greater joy than beating Republicans in red states (and Senator Saxby Chambliss in Georgia and Governor Nikki Haley in South Carolina are also high on my list) and Begich's re-election victory will be proof that the demographics in these states are changing and the nation is moving forward. Lets help Begich win in 2014:Alaska's junior senator fired off a letter to President Obama this week that essentially accuses the Indian Health Service of trying to rip off Alaska Natives and American Indians.
Sen. Mark Begich asks for the president's help in "seeing to it" that the agency pays the hundreds of millions of dollars it owes tribal health organizations for unreimbursed administrative costs dating back more than a decade."In Alaska alone, three contractors suffered over $218 million in contract support shortfalls reaching as far back as 1997," Begich writes.
He adds that similar amounts are due tribes across the nation. "It is shocking that the agency would now delay justice, call for new audits, or seek 15 years later to renegotiate the amounts that were due at the time." - Alaska Dispatch, 11/30/12