GREENFIELD — About 150 supporters, along with 20 protesters, gathered at Greenfield Community College on Saturday morning for a town hall event with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who she said comes at “a moment of celebration.”
Warren was referring to President Joe Biden’s forgiveness of billions of dollars in student loan debt, which was announced on Wednesday.
“I grew up in an America where you could get a college degree for $50 a semester,” Warren told reporters after the event. “It’s because taxpayers decided to invest in schools. It’s not fair today. »
Warren continued, “There are a lot of loan forgiveness for millionaires and billionaires. I want to see it for the American working class. She argued that easing citizens’ student debt burden will benefit the economy.
Before the start of the town hall, Warren sat down with the Greenfield Recorder for an interview, discussing how her work in the Senate could benefit residents of Franklin County.
When asked what Warren had done for the people of Franklin County since her last visit to Greenfield in November 2017, she said: ‘The 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 greatest achievement in reducing carbon emissions. She said the law “will make money available to communities across Massachusetts and the country to find local ways to reduce carbon emissions in innovative and new ways.”
In light of the recent release of the report of the Select Commission on Rural School Districts which called for at least a $60 million increase in funding for rural Massachusetts schools, Warren underscored his support for increased funding for the education.
“Count on me to try to inject more money into our schools,” she said. “We should help our schools with whatever they want to try. I strongly believe that Washington’s role is not to demand that things be done a certain way in education, but rather to encourage local ideas to arise and help fund them.
She also said the fight for universal childcare will ultimately solve the problems of declining enrollment. With high-quality child care, young families would be drawn to rural areas like Franklin County, filling public schools when their children are of age and contributing to the local economy.
Warren also spoke about what she does for seniors living on fixed incomes who face poverty. She said she hopes significant investment in seniors’ housing will be available so that older people can live “independently and affordably throughout their retirement years”.
Additionally, she talked about working to pass bills to increase Social Security payments for those in need. Warren concluded by explaining how the Inflation Reduction Act capped prescription drug spending.
“This will keep costs in check for seniors,” she said.
In his speech at the start of the town hall, Warren highlighted last month’s accomplishment.
In addition to talking about the Inflation Reduction Act and student loan forgiveness, she noted that the US Food and Drug Administration had been granted the ability to sell over-the-counter hearing aids. She said the high price of hearing aids is “not because the electronics are complicated”.
“The reason is that basically we had an oligopoly,” she said. Warren said this change in over-the-counter sales will open up competition and reduce the cost of hearing aids overall.
Warren also spoke about the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. She explained that this will help alleviate supply chain issues for silicon chips that are in many products today. The most important part of the law, she pointed out, was to double the National Science Foundation’s 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 this.”
During the town hall, a Western Massachusetts GOP Patriots protester stood on the outskirts of the rally with a megaphone, commenting on the events unfolding on the lawn.
“We’re in opposition to the twisted lying rats, that’s what we’re here for,” said Mike Mercier, a protester from Connecticut holding a drum. He was not part of the Western Massachusetts group.
The group of protesters outnumbered the attendees who came to listen to Warren speak.
“I came out because I wanted my son and daughter to see a senator who stands up for working class people,” commented Heath resident Adrienne Anifant Schaentzler. “I want them to know that they can be senators one day.”