January 22, 2014

Springfield Republican: Sen. Elizabeth Warren says focus in 2014 includes boosting Social Security program, making higher education more attainable and increasing medical research funding

By: Robert Rizzuto
January 22, 2014

SPRINGFIELD - Surrounded by dozens of citizen supporters and elected officials on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said the new year comes with a sharpened focus on three specific areas where she plans to help craft legislation.

Among them are boosting the nation's Social Security Program, helping make college more affordable while lowering student loan debt, and increasing the amount of medical research funding available to potentially further the level of life-saving breakthroughs developed on an average calendar year.

Warren said that although the talk surrounding the nation's Social Security program is usually negative, she thinks it is time to change the conversation and focus on ways to improve the already positive aspects.

"I'm tired of playing defense on Social Security. It's time to go on offense. Look, we have a Social Security system that works, but we've been starving that Social Security system," Warren said. "It's got enough money now but in about 20 years, it would run out of the surplus and benefits would drop by about 20 percent."

Warren said that by making investments in the system now, it could go a long way toward ensuring that several years down the road, Social Security payments would be substantial enough to account for the inevitably higher cost of living.

"Social Security needs adjustments to make sure it is going to be there to pay for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. We have to remember that two out of every three Social Security recipients, counts on that to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads," Warren said. "But we have to remember that for 14 million Americans, Social Security is all that stands between them and poverty."

In regards to her call to double federal spending on biomedical research through the National Institutes of Health, Warren said that such additional investments would have benefits both financial, and through the development of new drugs and treatments.

"When I was growing up, we put money into the NIH, into scientific research and it paid this country back. It built job, not just in science and for doctors, it builds jobs up and down the line," Warren said. "For every dollar we put into NIH, we get $2.23 in economic activity immediately. Economically, it is the right thing to do."

Warren also reiterated the second part of her reasoning on the issue, previously discussed at a breakfast organized by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

"As a country, we know the problems we face- diabetes, Alzheimer's, autism. Our scientists have their toes on the edge of discoveries that can help us all. We need to make those investments so we are stronger, healthier people," Warren said. "We build a future for ourselves, people around this country and people around the world."

Warren has spent much of her adult life teaching at institutions including the University of Texas, the University of Pennsylvania Law School and most recently Harvard Law. She said 2014 also brings a renewed focus on the cost of a college education, and just how saddled-down students are getting from their college-related debt.

Read the full story here.