, Salem, MA

October 16, 2012

Warren answers Peabody seniors' questions

By Alan Burke Staff writer
The Salem News

---- — PEABODY — When you live at Brooksby Village, the campaign comes to you.

The retirement community was visited by Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown in late September, and yesterday it was Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren who turned up, offering a brief speech stressing, among other things, the need to honor the nation’s commitment to veterans and to Social Security.

Both candidates attracted crowds of comparable size, totaling nearly 200 people.

“I’m basically a baby sister,” Warren told the crowd yesterday, relating stories of her three older brothers, one a career military man, another in a construction union, and the third living entirely on Social Security and Medicare.

“That’s what I learned from my brother,” she said. “We do not cut Social Security and Medicare.”

But Warren said she feared Republicans would try to cut the nation’s $16 trillion deficit by denying funds to “the most vulnerable.”

“Every time I start thinking about the $16 trillion that we owe as a country, I think of my grandchild,” she said. Such children, she warned, could eventually be saddled with that debt. Rather than cut Social Security or Medicare, however, she recommended cuts to the military budget.

During the question-and-answer period, retired doctor Phillip Snodgrass was supportive, aiming an implied criticism at Brown’s habit of calling his opponent “Professor Warren” by beginning, “Professor Warren — and I say that with respect since I spent my life in academic medicine.”

He complained that Brown had weakened the terms of the Dodd-Frank banking reform bill to aid Massachusetts financial firms.

In response, Warren recalled her own experience in Washington working on the TARP bailout four years ago and discovering that a group of Democrats and Republicans could, on occasion, come to unanimous agreement on things. Nonetheless, she lamented a general lack of consideration for consumers in Washington — a situation that led her to propose a new agency to protect people, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

She described overcoming a lot of resistance to its formation by resolving, “If we really want change, we have to put the wind in our own sails.”

Warren seldom missed an opportunity to tie her opponent to millionaires and billionaires. “Scott Brown — a fourth of his money came directly from Wall Street,” she said. At another point, she declared, “You can vote for banks or you can vote for families.”

Warren also responded to a question regarding charges that she’s been practicing law and handling cases in Massachusetts without ever joining the state bar.

“I’m a member of the bar in New Jersey, until a couple of weeks ago,” she replied, adding Texas and the Supreme Court, as well. “I am in compliance with the law.”

After calling for one last question, Warren smiled when a resident asked three.

“It’s very sneaky,” she joked. “I just want to say I admire that sneakiness.”

Resident Paula Wall came in undecided and declared herself for Warren by the end of the event.

“I think her presentation was excellent,” she said.

She had also attended Brown’s visit and, while praising his charm, chided his tendency to rely on “talking points.”

“She’s a very worthy successor to the legacy of Sen. Ted Kennedy,” Kenneth Laurance said. “She’s very impressive. She responds to every question.”