News From Senator Begich; December 20, 2010: Supporting Working Families
December 31, 2010
Anchorage Anchorage Fire & Ice New Year's Celebration
6:00 p.m. (Alaska)
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December 20, 2010 Merry Christmas 2010
Click to view a holiday greeting from Sen. Begich
It has been a busy couple of weeks as we have been working through a number of key issues, trying to get some important business wrapped up before we head home for the holidays. I will be happy to join Deborah and Jacob at home in Anchorage as we celebrate Christmas with extended family and friends.
I was pleased Saturday to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in passing the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell by a vote of 65 to 31. It really is time to get rid of this outdated and harmful policy and allow all of our service members to serve honestly and openly. After President Obama signs the bill into law, I know the Department of Defense will follow a number of policies and procedures to make sure the repeal goes smoothly. When the military recently concluded its exhaustive review and 70 percent of service members said the repeal could be done with little or no impact on unit effectiveness, including the military leaders and generals, my long-held view the policy needed to be repealed was affirmed.
Additionally, we passed historic tax legislation that will allow virtually every Alaskan to start the New Year with more money in their pockets. As you'll see in the item below, there are a number of provisions in the tax legislation that can benefit individuals, families and small businesses directly and immediately.
As we say goodbye to 2010, I hope you will find time to have fun and relax with family and friends over the next several days. I hope 2011 will be a prosperous year, bringing peace, happiness and good health to all.
Senator Mark Begich
Wreaths Across America
Sen. Begich and son, Jacob, participate in 'Wreaths Across America' at Arlington National Cemetery by laying a wreath at the grave of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lund, an Alaskan who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Begich Supports Working Alaskans, Middle Class Families Knowing 100 percent of Alaska's workers and middle class families would benefit from the additional money in their pockets, Sen. Begich supported the tax cut extensions passed overwhelmingly in the Senate last week. Begich said it was not the final package he had initially hoped for, but he welcomed the many benefits Alaskans would feel immediately heading into the New Year. Begich said he remains concerned that Congress hasn't spent enough time talking about fiscal responsibility and reining in the debt, and if lawmakers don't get serious about cracking down on spending, families and small businesses will be put at financial risk again.
By the Numbers: Alaska Impact · 359,709 - The number of Alaskans who will see lower tax rates through 2012;
· 38,488 - The number of Alaska families benefitting from the Earned Income Tax Credit (receiving an avg. $1,606 tax break);
· 19,000 - The number of middle-class families protected from the Alternative Minimum Tax for two years;
• 72,164 - The number of Alaska families who will benefit from the two year extension of the Child Tax Credit (receiving an avg. $1,301 tax cut);
• 13 months - The duration of the unemployment insurance benefit extension.
Department of Justice Recognizes Alaskans
The outstanding work of the Alaska U.S. Attorney's Office was recognized with the Department of Justice's Director's Award in Washington D.C. Eleven Alaskans were recognized for their work on the Joshua Wade Case.
Begich Builds on Record of Standing Up for Alaska Seniors and Military Sen. Begich supported a one-year extension of Medicare and TRICARE reimbursement rates as the Senate forged a bipartisan agreement to avert scheduled payment cuts to doctors and other providers who treat seniors and military personnel, retirees and their families. "Doctors and their patients no longer have to wonder from month-to-month whether the rug will be pulled out from under them," Begich said. "We still need a permanent fix - and I'll keep working for that - but this extension provides much-needed certainty for the coming year." The Senate by unanimous consent approved the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010. The biggest provision by far is the physician payment update, which extends current Medicare and TRICARE reimbursement rates through December 2011, at a cost of $14.9 billion over 10 years.
"Get To Work, Get Busy"
Saying that legislating is not a game of winners and losers, Sen. Begich expressed the need for lawmakers to listen to the voters who said, "get to work, get busy."
Begich Continues to Fight for Timely Resolution of NPR-A Permitting Issue Sen. Begich joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Congressmen Don Young in sending a Dec. 10 letter to the Department of the Interior regarding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to reconsider part of its previous rejection of a plan to drill in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A).In February, the Corps rejected a plan by ConocoPhillips to reach its lease holdings on the eastern edge of NPR-A, a prospective satellite of its Alpine oil field known as CD-5. Instead, the Corps determined that a buried pipeline and the use of horizontal drilling would have less of an environmental impact. Alaska's Congressional delegation said the alternative proposed by the Corps would severely limit future access to the nation's largest petroleum reserve and failed to take into account five years of environmental study and exhaustive consultation with tribal, local, state and federal stakeholders to determine the best option for the residents of the region. The letter asks the Corps to expedite ConocoPhillips' appeal in order to provide some level of regulatory certainty to the company.
Meeting with Alaska Native Leaders
Sen. Begich met with Alaska Native Tribal Leaders ahead of President Obama's second Tribal Nations Summit at the White House.
Alaska's View From the Hill
Sen. Begich and KTVA's Matt Felling discuss the end of the 111th Congress and Sen. Begich's support for a tax cut plan benefitting 100% of Alaska families and workers.