By Kristen Fiandaca
With the presidential election taking place today, you may have forgotten about an equally important vote that concerns the people of Massachusetts; the Senate election. Though Senate races are always important, this year’s election is perhaps more contentious than ever, with the Senate majority hanging in the balance. Many polls indicate that the final Senate count could shift the majority from the Republicans back to the Democrats, largely with a Massachusetts Democratic win. Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren is the Democrat running against incumbent Republican, Senator Scott Brown. You’ve heard her name all over the news, you’ve seen her campaign signs around Massachusetts, but what is she all about and how will her policies affect you as a college student?
Rep. Jim McGovern of the third congressional district of Massachusetts provides answers to those questions.
From your standpoint, what are the major differences between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown?
“One of the big differences is that Scott Brown believes that the answer to all our economic problems is by cutting things. Elizabeth Warren understands that we have to make careful cuts in order to balance our budget but we also need to grow out of the deficit that we’re in and that means putting people back to work… Elizabeth Warren understands that in order for our economy to grow we need to invest in education and that means making sure that grants and loans are available for young people who want to go to college so they can afford it. We need to invest in research: medical research, scientific research, and environmental research which will help create a workforce that can accommodate the jobs of tomorrow. ..She’s been a champion for middle class families. She’s taken on Wall Street and she’s also been a champion for civil rights and a leader in advocating equal pay for women.”
Why would college students be particularly interested in voting for Elizabeth Warren?
“My assumption is that, if you’re a college student, you care about affordable education. Part of the way you make education affordable is through grants and loans and she has said she wants to invest more in education. Scott Brown has said he wants to invest less. In terms of making sure there are jobs when you get out of school, she has been very clear that we need to invest in emerging industries, research, and in workforce training, which helps to ensure people can transition from college into jobs. The other thing is, I think a lot of college students now believe we should end these wars and bring our troops home. Elizabeth Warren wants to end the war sooner, and also take the money that we’re borrowing to finance the war and reinvest it back home.”
How is Elizabeth Warren going to tackle the student debt issue that many college graduates are now facing at this time?
“One thing she’s going to do is make sure the government doesn’t increase the interest rates on student loans. Scott Brown voted to allow the interest rates of some student loans to double. We were able to get a one-year extension and keep the rates at a lower level but that’s only for a year… Doubling or increasing the interest rates on student loans would be an awful burden on students… So what she wants to do is make sure the interest rates are low and make sure there are grants available so people don’t have to go so deeply into debt. She works in education so she understands that we need to make education more affordable. We need to support our community colleges, state colleges, and universities and that requires making sure there is federal funding available.”
Could you talk a little bit about Elizabeth Warren’s support of the Affordable Care Act?
“The Affordable Care Act allows students up to the age of 26 to be able to remain on their parent’s health insurance which is a big deal because if you were thrown off your parent’s health insurance once you’ve reached 21 or 18, depending on your insurance company, you’re on your own. The Affordable Care Act covers preventive care and eliminates co-pays for a lot of preventive care procedures. It also helps push us to the goal of making sure everybody in this country has health insurance. That’s a big deal for many reasons, it’s the morally right thing to do, everybody ought to have healthcare. Beyond that, it will help reduce our debt because a lot of what adds to our deficit is people utilizing emergency rooms under no health insurance.”
With the election coming to a close, how is Elizabeth Warren going to convince those who are still undecided to vote for her?
“She’s running around the state trying to shake every hand that can possibly be shaken and talk to every person she can possibly get in contact with. I think you could make the case that people who are undecided need to decide what’s important to them; if they care about expanding educational opportunities, if they care about creating jobs, then Elizabeth Warren’s platform is the best way to achieve those goals.”
As of late Monday, most polls have Warren and Brown in a very tight race. The New York Times’ 538 blog, which has garnered plenty of attention in this 2012 presidential race, projects Warren has a 94 percent chance of winning, based on accumulated polling results and the Massachusetts state fundamentals, which lean Democrat typically. Polling places opened today at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.