News From Senator Begich; December 6, 2010: Defending the Middle Class
December 6, 2010 Defending Alaska Small Business & Working Families
As our economy recovers from the worst crisis since the Great Depression, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on middle class Americans. That's why I've been frustrated with Congress' inability to extend tax cuts slated to expire at the end of this month. While I have been fighting to protect Alaska families, those who favor looking out for millionaires and billionaires refused to approve tax cuts for the middle-class. This bonus for the wealthiest 2% would cost $700 billion and add $3.8 trillion to our growing national debt. I'll continue to push my colleagues, as I did in several Senate floor speeches last week, to extend tax cuts to 98 percent of Americans.
Meanwhile, I was pleased to see the Kiplinger Magazine acknowledge what all Alaskans know - that our state is one of the best in America to live and raise a family. The publication last week ranked Alaska as one of the most tax-friendly places to retire because of our low tax rate and Permanent Fund.
Senator Mark Begich
Sen. Begich helped distribute food for the "Thanksgiving Blessing" at St. Patrick's Church in Anchorage.
Senator Praises Progress in Off-Shore Oil Development Sen. Begich last week praised a decision by the Obama Administration to resume consideration of Shell's application to drill test wells in the Beaufort Sea next year. Begich received a call from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar telling him of the decision, which is good news for Alaska's oil and gas industry. "This decision is one more step toward responsible oil and gas development in Alaska's resource-rich offshore waters which will strengthen the economic and national security of the country," Begich said. Development for Shell was side-lined after the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico this spring, and Begich has been urging the Obama Administration to show a clear timeline and process for responsible development of Alaska's enormous oil and gas resources. Shell has invested more than $2 billion dollars for leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and has worked with the residents of the North Slope on detailed, responsible oil spill response and cleanup plans for the area.
Deck the Halls
Sen. Begich joined the festivities for the lighting of the Christmas Tree in Anchorage's Town Square. The annual event takes place each year the day after Thanksgiving.
Begich Votes "No" on Earmark Ban:
Supports Investment in Alaska While supporting reform and full disclosure of requests from Alaskans for community-supported investments, Sen. Begich voted "no" on an attempt in the U.S. Senate to ban congressionally directed investments commonly known as earmarks. The proposed measure would have banned earmarks for three years. "I am committed to addressing Alaska's enormous infrastructure needs and will continue to support requests from Alaskans for community-backed investments in public buildings, roads, ports and other projects and programs that create jobs, strengthen our communities and keep our economy moving," Begich said. He added the number of earmark requests his office receives each year from Alaskans is evidence of the need and support for federal investment in the state. For the Fiscal 2011 appropriations cycle, Begich's office received nearly $5 billion in requests from Alaskans for almost 500 projects. Currently, dozens of those projects worth millions of dollars have passed the Appropriations Committee and are awaiting approval by the full Senate.
"I Believe in America"
Frustrated by the continuing partisanship in Washington, D.C., Sen. Begich took to the Senate floor urging his colleagues to "bet on" and "believe in Americans."
Recommendations of Debt Commission Welcomed Saying failure to address America's growing national debt endangers the country's economic recovery, Sen. Begich called recommendations by the President's debt commission painful but courageous and necessary. "America's staggering national debt, nearly $14 trillion, threatens the family budgets of average Americans today and well into the future," Begich said. "The old Washington ways by both political parties of massive federal spending and tax loopholes simply can't be sustained." Begich said the report released last week by the President's debt commission should shock every member of Congress of both parties into action. The commission's painful combination of proposed spending cuts, elimination of tax breaks and tax increases is courageous and must be taken seriously to get our nation back on track, Begich said. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, appointed by President Obama last February, released its proposed report last week. Although it did not receive enough votes Friday to move to the full Congress, Begich said elements of the recommendations must still be considered by lawmakers to get the deficit under control.
Sen. Begich met with Mat-Su College Mathematics Professor Pin-Tung Chang and his wife Li Kan to congratulate Dr. Change for being named the 2010 United States Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
South Korea Trade Agreement Good for Alaska Business
Sen. Begich met with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak to discuss trade issues in 2009.
Recognizing the potential growth for Alaska exports, Sen. Begich welcomed the negotiation a new trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea. Sen. Begich called the treaty "great news" and views it as "one of the best ways to reduce our national debt while creating jobs and boosting the economy at home."