Kennedy addresses Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce
Congressman talks with Nashoba business owners and community activists over Zoom
By JON WINKLER | firstname.lastname@example.org | Nashoba Valley Voice
PUBLISHED: July 2, 2020 at 7:34 a.m. | UPDATED: July 2, 2020 at 8:04 a.m.
SHIRLEY – With the future of so many aspects of local life uncertain in a post-coronavirus world, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III believes the federal government can do more to protect those elements from total failure.
Kennedy, who is running in the Democratic primary against Sen. Ed Markey on Sept. 1, participated in a virtual conversation over Zoom one afternoon late last month hosted by Melissa Fetterhoff of the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Markey did a similar event with the chamber about a month ago.
Speaking for about an hour, the grand-nephew of former President John F. Kennedy answered questions from local business owners and leaders of community groups about what the federal government can do to improve its support of local enterprises. While the state is slowly but surely allowing the reopening of businesses and institutions under its phased plan, many small businesses are either still closed or struggling to regain good business with consumers still nervous about leaving home.
While acknowledging the difficult time the country is in, Kennedy believed there was still an opportunity to improve strengthening the health care system to ensure another viral outbreak doesn’t devastate the nation as much as COVID-19 has. He also touched on the need to address social and racial justice demanded from protesters nationwide and improve supply chains by strengthening the resiliency of the national economy. That economy, Kennedy said, was powered by small businesses that support the “robust” middle class.
“It is in fact small businesses that are responsible for the vast majority of job growth,” he added. “It’s small businesses that are responsible for the preservation of a middle-class lifestyle in suburban America and rural America, so we need to make sure that we’ve got federal policies that are protecting and helping small businesses to prosper.”
Much of the questions leveled at Kennedy involved money, with the bulk of his responses emphasizing the need for federal funding to support numerous businesses and programs. For instance, when Matt Keswick asked him about if any other federal initiatives supporting the unemployed were on the way, Kennedy noted how communities across the state and country are in need of those initiatives with numbers of coronavirus cases beginning to spike again.
“One of the anchors to the next relief package is going to have to be state and municipal aid,” he added. “That’s desperately needed here in Massachusetts, it’s desperately needed in plenty of other places across the country as well. President Trump had a 3 1/2% unemployment rate in February, he’s at 17% right now. If he is going to try to make an argument that he is going to deserve re-election he needs to show, in my opinion, a massive economic growth rate come September and October in order to justify the, ‘Hey things are bad but it was a novel virus, we’re fixing it.'”
Nick Thornton, director of development for the Boy Scouts of America’s Heart of New England Council, asked the congressman about how federal officials can “smooth the transition” for non-profit organizations like summer camps or after-school activities from COVID shutdowns to a reopened but still cautious society. While Kennedy acknowledged the multiple recovery packages already passed into law, he noted that funding for those organizations and programs will likely go up to cover the costs of COVID-preventing measure like disinfectant.
“When 45 million people lose their jobs and businesses have been shut down, the traditional ways in which you would receive revenue from either ticket sales or philanthropy are dried up,” he explained. “So if we’re going to rely on those services, the federal government is literally the only entity that has the ability to backstop it and say, ‘Hey, we’ll provide that funding and keep that going.'”
Despite the shape the country is in, Kennedy remained steadfast in believing simple phrase that a British National told him that he admired: we’ll figure it out.
“I think what we need is a president that understands the place that the United States holds in our history, the importance of U.S. leadership around the world, the fact that that leaderships comes from a codified and deep belief of human dignity, human rights and the power of the individual that we actually have built a government around to say that you count,” he said.
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