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McGovern pledges  to fight  for elders

Recorder/Paul Franz
Congressman Jim McGovern talks with community members at Elm Terrace Community Room on Friday morning.

Recorder/Paul Franz Congressman Jim McGovern talks with community members at Elm Terrace Community Room on Friday morning.

GREENFIELD — Speaking to about 30 seniors at the Elm Terrace community room Friday, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern promised to fight for their interests in battles raging in Washington on issues like Social Security, Medicare and nutrition support.

McGovern — the eight-term Democratic congressman who now serves Greenfield and 13 other Franklin County towns in the refigured 2nd Congressional District — used the opportunity to criticize politicians across the aisle, saying that critical programs for the elderly “are under attack” from Republicans.

“Social Security is one of the most successful programs in the history of this country,” he said. “If there was no Social Security and there was no Medicare (a federally funded health insurance for the elderly), the poverty rate among senior citizens in this country would be astronomical. These are good ... positive programs that help people, and we’ve got to fight to protect them.”

McGovern discounted the assertion that Social Security — the federal program that gives money to retired, unemployed and disabled people — is adding to the country’s debt today. He believes the program can be sustained in its current state for the next 20 years, giving Congress the time it needs to come up with a long-term funding solution for the expensive program .

And as a member of the House agricultural committee, McGovern said that many of his colleagues have no real appreciation for the hunger and nutritional deficiencies that many in the country, including some in Franklin County, face daily.

He said he lived on a “food stamp diet” of $3 a day for a couple of weeks to learn firsthand how the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program works.

“Now, $3 a day is not a lot of money. You go to a Starbucks and buy a triple cappuccino whatever, there’s your allocation,” he said. “No one in the committee seemed to know what it was.”

McGovern, who is in the process of opening up a Northampton office, told attendees that they could always contact him if they needed someone to advocate on their behalf.

But he also said that Franklin County has the opportunity to serve as an example for the state, and even for the country.

“This community is a lot more progressive than a lot of communities throughout the commonwealth,” he said. “There’s a lot of awareness here, and a lot of knowledge of the way the system works.”

Franklin County Home Care Corp. invited McGovern to Elm Terrace so that senior citizens could meet their new congressman and ask him about federal issues, said Executive Director Roseann Martoccia.

Also in attendance were Greenfield Mayor William Martin, Greenfield Fire Chief Michael Winn and state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru.

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