Sen. Warren shares work in Congress at Greenfield town hall

  • U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks on the front lawn of Greenfield Community College Saturday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren takes a selfie with those in attendance on the front lawn of Greenfield Community College Saturday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks with the Greenfield Recorder’s Bella Levavi at Greenfield Community College on Saturday prior to her town hall event with citizens on the college’s front lawn. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield Mayor Roxann Wedegartner welcomes U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the front lawn of Greenfield Community College Saturday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren answers questions on the front lawn of Greenfield Community College Aug. 27. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • People line up behind an aid to ask U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren questions on the front lawn of Greenfield Community College Saturday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks with the Greenfield Recorder’s Bella Levavi at Greenfield Community College on Saturday prior to her town hall event with citizens on the college’s front lawn. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/5/2022 11:26:00 AM
Modified: 9/5/2022 11:22:53 AM

GREENFIELD — Roughly 150 supporters, as well as 20 protesters, convened at Greenfield Community College on Saturday morning for a town hall event with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, which she said comes at “a time of celebration.”

Warren was referring to President Joe Biden’s forgiveness of billions of dollars in student loan debt, which was announced Wednesday.

“I grew up in an America where you could get a college diploma for $50 a semester,” Warren said to the press after the event. “That was because taxpayers decided to invest in schools. It is not fair today.”

Warren continued, “There is plenty of loan forgiveness for millionaires and billionaires. I want to see it for America’s working class.” She argued that easing citizens’ burden of student loan debt will benefit the economy.

Before the town hall began, Warren sat down with the Greenfield Recorder for an interview, discussing how her work in the Senate could benefit Franklin County residents.

When asked what Warren has done for the people of Franklin County since she last visited Greenfield in November 2017, she said, “Last time I was here we talked about how to manage the climate crisis in a way that was less about building concrete walls … and more about adaptability.”

She pointed to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as the biggest accomplishment in reducing carbon emissions. She said the act “will make money available to communities all across Massachusetts and the country to find local ways to cut carbon emissions in innovative and new ways.”

Given the recent release of the Special Commission on Rural School Districts’ report that called for at least a $60 million increase in funding for rural schools in Massachusetts, Warren emphasized her support for more education funding.

“Count me in on trying to get more money into our schools,” she said. “We should help our schools with whatever they want to try. I am a big believer that the role of Washington is not to require things be done a certain way in education, but instead to encourage local ideas to spring up and to help fund them.”

She also said fighting for universal child care will ultimately solve problems of declining enrollment. With high-quality child care available, young families would be attracted to come to rural areas like Franklin County, filling public schools when their children are of age and contributing to the local economy.

Senior issues

Warren also spoke about what she is doing for seniors who are living on fixed incomes and facing poverty. She said she hopes large investments in senior housing will be available so that seniors can live “independently and affordably throughout their retirement years.”

Additionally, she spoke about working to pass bills to increase Social Security payments for those in need. Warren concluded by speaking about how the Inflation Reduction Act has capped spending on prescription drugs.

“It will get the cost under control for seniors,” she said.

In her speech at the beginning of the town hall, Warren pointed to the accomplishment of the past month.

In addition to speaking about the Inflation Reduction Act and student loan forgiveness, she noted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has secured the ability to sell hearing aids over the counter. She said the high price of hearing aids is “not because the electronics are complicated.”

“The reason is because basically we’ve had an oligopoly,” she said. Warren said this change to over-the-counter sales will open up competition and lower the cost for hearing aids as a whole.

Warren also spoke about the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. She explained this will help alleviate supply chain issues for silicon chips that are in many products today. The most important part of the act, she pointed out, involved doubling the National Science Foundation budget for the next five years.

“One of the things I talked about (when I first ran) was the importance of investing in basic science,” she said. “Four weeks ago we made a huge commitment to that.”

During the town hall, one protester with the Western Massachusetts GOP Patriots stood around the periphery of the gathering with a megaphone, commenting on the events happening on the lawn.

“We are in the opposition of crooked lying rats, that’s why we are here,” commented Mike Mercier, a protester from Connecticut holding a drum. He was not part of the western Massachusetts group.

The group of protesters was outnumbered by attendees who came to listen to Warren speak.

“I came out because I wanted my son and daughter to see a senator that fights for working-class people,” commented Heath resident Adrienne Anifant Schaentzler. “I want them to know they can be a senator one day.”

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.


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