By Beth David, Editor
Democrat Elizabeth Warren, the senior US Senator from Massachusetts, made a trip to New Bedford last Thursday, 8/4, to give a speech and presentation that she said was still in the formative stages. She wanted to try it out, she said, and see how people reacted to it.
After the presentation, dubbed “The American Agenda,” she told reporters that she did notice a couple of slides just “didn’t work.” She said she hoped to hone the message and then “take it on the road,” and maybe put it online.
Before the talk, a line stretched all around the block to get into the first-come-first-serve seating at the First Unitarian Church in New Bedford. Waiting to get in, Laurel Berryman, 18, said she was looking for “further reasons” why she should vote for Hillary. Heading to college in the fall, Ms. Berryman, along with her parents, Lee and Anita, said they hoped the senator would talk about college costs that night.
Mr. Berryman said he was there to support “the ideas that Elizabeth Warren supports.”
He said he was “on board” with her ideas.”
“We’ve got to unite the country because we’re in bad shape,” he said.
Anita Berryman said she was there, “Because I love Elizabeth Warren.”
“I don’t want to see Donald Trump in office,” said Ms. Berryman. “And I want to see my daughter go to college without so much debt it prevents her from embarking on a strong future.”
Inside, the main point of the senator’s message was that government policy makes a difference. Policy is what caused the distress that middle class families are feeling, she said, and policy can fix it.
Not handouts, she said. Not giveaways, but policies that support the middle class and make large corporations pay their fair share.
She said one loophole alone in tax law would give the government $55 billion dollars annually, although she did not name the loophole.
Sen. Warren entered the packed church to a rock star welcome.
First, she laid out what the middle class looked like 50 or 60 years ago. Then she talked about shrinking wages, jobs lost overseas, and the widening gap between the rich and poor.
“What changed,” she asked.
Then she popped up a slide of President Ronald Reagan, surrounded by men, signing legislation.
The room roared with laughter.
“Policy changed,” she said.
Sen. Warren went through many of the numbers, especially those that signal a healthy economy. She said all the indicators right now are those of a good, strong economy, but the middle class is not feeling it.
Again, she said, it was deliberate policy decisions that helped to take money and jobs away from the middle class and bump profits up to the wealthy.
She said the so-called “trickle down” economics of the Reagan era simply did not work.
“As a country, we can do better,” said Sen. Warren.
She said the deregulation that started with Ronald Reagan can be put back in place.
She said America did well when it invested in itself, with education expenditures, the space program and support for workers by supporting strong unions.
She said all of that resulted in workers sharing in the wealth that was created.
She said it was not perfect, but “over time, we were bending in the right direction.”
“It worked,” she said, resulting in 90% of America getting 70% of the wealth.
Then it changed, and not by accident or mistake. She said the turnaround for the worse came as a direct result of deliberate policy decisions made by our government; decisions to support the richest people in the country, not the middle class.
In addition to ignoring the infrastructure that made America great, the policies “took the cop off Wall Street” with deregulation, creating business models based on cheating people, and putting the whole economy in danger.
Sen. Warren said most politicians no longer work for the people, they work for lobbyists.
The American Agenda has four main points: Raise the minimum wage, refinance student loans, expand Social Security, and regulate big banks.
“You can’t win if you don’t fight. You can’t make progress if you don’t aim high,” said Sen. Warren. “I believe in America…I believe in an America that grows opportunity…And I believe it’s worth fighting for.”
After her talk, Sen. Warren spent a few minutes with the press, then stayed long enough to take pictures with everyone who wanted to. •••