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Warren Renews Fight Against Republican Healthcare Plan

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JD Allen
/
WAMC News
Senator Warren rallies for civic engagement.

Healthcare dominated the conversation at Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s town hall in Pittsfield Saturday. 

Warren says the contentious debate over healthcare in Washington is representative of how the country is doing under Republican control of Congress and President Donald Trump.

“The Republicans have on the table a plan, and they describe it as a healthcare plan,” Warren says. “I actually want to be blunt about it: It is not a healthcare plan – it’s a tax cut plan.” 

The Democrat says the right people need to get into government to change that because what’s happening now isn’t working.

“The days when we could kind of assume what is going on in Washington. You know, pay attention from time to time, scan the headlines, see what occasionally goes across the crawl on TV – those days are over,” Warren says. “Now we are in a world where Washington is in a fight literally over our lives. In a fight over the role of government, the things we do together.”

Roughly 800 people lined up at Berkshire Community College to hear Warren during a rare visit to the western end of the state. Residents who asked questions said they fear what cuts in the White House budget proposal and the Republican healthcare bill will mean if they become a reality.

“The Republicans are determined to take us in a direction that says there is just one message here: America works for those at the top, and the U.S. government is here to serve those at the top,” Warren says.

Pittsfield resident Pat Sheely says she relies on Medicaid.

“My life is toast without it,” Sheely says.

Sheely, an advocate for persons with disabilities, like herself, asked Warren what more the county can do to make it known that the American Health Care Act would ruin many of their lives.

Warren says people need to get their voices and stories heard in Washington.

“People like you who are engaged and who talk about what the consequences will be of the Republican plans that’s what slowed it all down and got us to this point. And so, lesson number one for me, if anyone asks does it matter?” Warren says. ”Does it matter? The answer is yes it matters, yes. Yes, so thank you.”

Warren says Republicans are pushing their bill forward anyway.

“And yet, Mitch McConnell is still out there: negotiating, breaking arms (right?), offering bribes, trying to keep people in line to vote for a bill that America does not want,” Warren says.  

Warren says she is pleading with Republicans:

“If you won’t do it out of humanity, do it out of just a concern for your pocketbook,” Warren says, “that we will save more money in the long run if we kept we kept good, effective, affordable healthcare in place.”

Other attendees expressed concern over the president’s bold presence on social media.

“It’s about Trump … Trump just trying to save his own skin. You know, what does Donald Trump think about morning, noon and night?” Warren asks. “The evidence is Donald Trump.”

Jimmy Chassis, a Latino high schooler from Pittsfield, says he and his peers are concerned about college. Chassis asked Warren for advice.

“There is almost like this fear of, like, college, and student loans and whether we could afford it or not,” Chassis says.

“OK, so the first part is to say what is happening in Washington right now is that the Republicans have completely shut down the debate,” Warren says.

Warren says she would like to see the student debt system refinanced and reformed. For now, she suggests go to college anyway.

“And the best I can say is borrow as little as you can,” Warren says.

Warren plans to run for re-election in 2018. She made no mention for her intentions for 2020, when many progressives hope she will run for president.

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