Home » Blumenthal to Winsted seniors: ‘I am still fighting for you’

Blumenthal to Winsted seniors: ‘I am still fighting for you’

WINSTED — Newly elected Sen. Richard Blumenthal visited the Chestnut Grove Apartments on Wednesday, Feb. 23, for a question-and-answer session with the senior residents.During the course of the discussion, the former state attorney general discussed topics ranging from the rumored potential U.S. government shutdown, Social Security benefits and Medicare benefits to dealing with senior fraud.“In my former job, I was in charge of protecting people from scams, frauds and wrongdoing,” Blumenthal said. “I still am, except in a different job. I am still fighting, advocating and working for you. I am trying to protect you from those same scams on a national level. I spend a lot of time talking to people and more importantly, listening.”Before he started the discussion, Blumenthal spoke about the debate currently facing Congress on how to cut the national debt and said that he would oppose any proposed cuts to Social Security benefits.“I believe that Social Security is a commitment this country makes to people who have paid into the program year after year,” Blumenthal said. “We should not be breaking our commitment. We need to be prudent and frugal in the way we make cuts.”When asked where he would make cuts, Blumenthal said the government should cut out the subsidies given to oil and gas companies.“They are the most profitable companies on the globe and they are making billions of dollars,” he said. “You as taxpayers are still subsidizing them. We also need to stop the sweetheart deals to the pharmaceutical drug companies. There is a law that prohibits negotiations of prices of pharmaceutical drugs under the Medicare program and it costs [the government] hundreds of billions of dollars.”The senator discussed pharmaceutical drug companies again when a resident said her prescriptions under Medicare have gone up from $1 to $2.50 apiece.“The companies have a monopoly and the control over the market,” Blumenthal said. “Usually you have one producer for a [pharmaceutical] product and they’re the only ones that make it. The government, through Medicare, should negotiate the medicine prices down.”A resident in the audience asked when the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) will be reinstated.The last time seniors have seen a COLA in their Social Security payments was in 2008.Blumenthal said that, while he supports reinstating a COLA, he could not say when Congress or the House of Representatives would reinstate them.“There are 100 members of the United States Senate. I am only one of them, and I cannot predict what they will do,” Blumenthal said. “Why did [President] Obama stop the [COLA]? I’m not President Obama, but I think the president felt that we didn’t have the money for it. Also because the United States has a huge deficit and our debt is rising.”Blumenthal said he is opposed to the bank bailout bills that were passed during the past few years of the Obama administration.“These banks are sitting on billions of dollars that they could be and should be loaning to businesses on Main Street,” Blumenthal said. “Six weeks ago, I walked down Main Street in Winsted and I saw a lot of boarded up [stores] and lots of boarded up small businesses that have folded because they could not get the money that they needed.”In an interview after the discussion, Blumenthal said there is tremendous potential for creating economic growth in Winsted and the state, but Connecticut needed to be more business friendly.“Right now we have the highest electricity costs in the United States and we need to lower them,” Blumenthal said. “We need to change the system for pricing power and electricity, which means we need to lower the costs imposed by regulations.”During both the question-and-answer session and an interview after the session, Blumenthal seemed to sidestep answering what he thought about Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed tax increases.“The issues relating to state taxes are for state legislatures and governments to decide,” Blumenthal said in an interview after the session. “Like everyone else hoping that tax increases can be kept to a minimum, we have tough choices in Washington. We need to reduce debt and the deficit at a federal level, but we should do it without unnecessary cuts.”

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