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Opposition To The Trump Administration Dominates Markey's Pittsfield Town Hall

Opposition to the Trump administration dominated the conversation at Massachusetts U.S. Senator Ed Markey’s town hall in Pittsfield Sunday.

Western Massachusetts State Senator Adam Hinds tells WAMC it’s more important than ever to have the state’s federal delegation meet with residents.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren held a town hall in Pittsfield in July. Ditto for Congressman Richard Neal of the First House district in September. 

“You know, we have a lot of challenges coming at us from the federal level,” Hinds says, “big discussions around tax reform, healthcare – and to have a voice there with us is great.”

Sunday’s town hall with Sen. Markey, also a Democrat, was hosted by the Four Freedoms Coalition and the Berkshire Brigades, the county’s Democratic Party. More than 400 people packed Barrington Stage Company.

Markey didn’t pull a punch when describing Washington during the first year of the Trump presidency, saying Americans have “Post Trump Stress Syndrome.”

At the top of the list was the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, one day before former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort turned himself in to authorities.

“We have to make sure that every day we hit that piñata of Manafort, and Flynn, and all of them, until all of the information spills out on to the streets of our country so that every American can know what happened in our election last year, and I am not going to stop until every single fact is out there,” Markey says.

Markey is also critical of the Republican tax overhaul plan.

“The Republicans intend on giving a tax break to the upper 1 percentile in our country. Their tax break goes 80 percent to the upper 1 percentile,” Markey says. “Now how are they going to pay for it?”

Markey points to estimates that the tax plan could add $2 trillion to the national deficit. He says Republicans would strip Medicare and Medicaid funding by $470 billion and $1 trillion, respectively.

“In other words, what their plan is is to pay for a tax break for the upper 1 percentile – can we all agree they don’t need any help in paying their health care bills?” Markey says. “And they are going to pay for that tax break by cutting the healthcare for the other 80 percent. And so there could not be a more immoral proposal.”

Markey says the GOP has taken a similar approach during its many attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“They harbor an ancient animosity toward these programs: from Social Security, to Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act,” Markey says. “And what they want to do is to leave them as debt-soaked relics of what they are today.”

Markey says the federal emergency declaration concerning the nation’s opioid epidemic is pointless without additional funding.

“They don’t intend on spending more money on this issue,” Markey says. “And here’s what we know (bottom-line), a vision without funding is a hallucination.”

Overdose deaths in Massachusetts are on the decline for the first time in 15 years, according to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration. Even still, more than 1,000 have died so far this year.

Markey is also haunted by President Trump’s ongoing dispute with North Korea.

“This is a very dangerous situation,” Markey says. “The president has the nuclear launch code walking around with him on a daily basis.”

Markey is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy. He went to South Korea in August.

“And it was very clear with our conversations with President Moon in South Korea, in his own words that: ‘we cannot fight second Korean War,’” Markey says.

Markey also touted the growth of renewable energy jobs nationwide, despite saying the Trump administration is “in denial” over climate change.

And he expects a showdown in Congress over DACA-related legislation soon.

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