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Warren calls on business leaders to join fight against Trump

Elizabeth Warren spoke on Monday.
Elizabeth Warren spoke on Monday.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Senator Elizabeth Warren called on state business leaders Monday to get more involved in the political fight against Donald Trump, saying the president’s agenda will harm New England.

Speaking at a lunchtime meeting of the New England Council, a regional business group, Warren said his presidency is turning out to be worse than she ever imagined.

“From the bottom of my heart, please get in this fight,” Warren, the state’s senior senator, told the room. “It is in your economic interest to be in these fights.”

Warren, who was known for her vociferous opposition to Trump even before he was elected, focused her remarks on three areas: the president’s immigration bans, the fight to repeal Obamacare, and budget cuts she said will harm the research facilities and industries of Massachusetts.

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As silverware clinked and waiters scurried between tables, Warren also hammered home her perennial message about protecting the working and middle classes, telling guests that Trump has not followed through on campaign promises to help those people.

“What I’m worried about is that Donald Trump and his reckless plans that the Republicans have put forward will deal another blow to America’s working families that they just can’t survive and they will fundamentally change our country,” she said.

Jim Brett, president of the New England Council, said the business community is indeed more concerned than in the past about what’s happening in Washington. He expects a record number of participants for an annual trip to Washington in May to hear from policy makers.

“They are definitely engaged,” Brett said.

About the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts, Warren specifically mentioned a fuel assistance program for poor and elderly people, and funding for the National Institutes of Health, which provides research funding to many of the universities and hospitals in the state.

Last year, Massachusetts received $2.6 billion in research funding from NIH, the second-most of any state, after California, according to the NIH. The top recipients were Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Boston University.

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New England also relies heavily on federal fuel assistance because of its long, cold winters.

Brett, the council president, said fuel assistance and NIH funding are top concerns among his members. The threat to NIH money could mean bad news, not only for finding cures, but also from an economic standpoint.

“It also goes to the potential development of products, and that means development of jobs,” he said.

Warren said the president’s executive orders on immigration, which aim to bar visitors from several Muslim-majority countries, will hurt the state’s universities, innovation economy, and tourism, three sectors that draw heavily from abroad. So far, the courts have halted the orders.

“It has an effect on everyone who’s thinking about coming to the United States,” Warren said.

After her talk, reporters asked Warren if she supports single-payer health care, a type of national insurance program common in many European countries that some in the United States, including former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, support.

At an event in Framingham Friday night, Warren said she did support a single-payer system then clarified that it should be one option on the table. She gave a similar response on Monday.

Warren said it depends what happens next in the health care debate on Capitol Hill.

Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, traces its roots to the Massachusetts health law signed by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney. But, Warren said, if Republicans now want to blow it up, it’s time to look at all options.

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“If we’re talking about tearing down the health care system and starting over, then I think every option needs to be on the table, and single-payer sure ought to be at the top of the list,” she said.


Laura Krantz can be reached at laura.krantz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz.