MetroWest is at the heart of the recovery for Massachusetts and Massachusetts is at the heart of the recovery for the nation, said Congressman Edward Markey yesterday.
U.S. Rep. Markey, whose district includes Framingham, was the keynote speaker for the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce's new Exec-Connect Series. More than 100 individuals attended yesterday afternoon's event at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel.
Markey said the nation's plan for the 21st Century should be the plan MetroWest has put for itself. MetroWest is home to leaders in solar, green technology, biotechnical and high-tech companies.
Markey, first elected in 1976, is serving his 35th year in Congress. He is the 9th most senior member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He told yesterday's gathering of business leaders when he was younger he dreamed of being a Boston Celtic and scoring 20,000 points like Ray Allen. Last week, Markey cast his 20,000th vote in Congress, something only 54 members out of more than 13,000 congressmen have accomplished.
Markey said businesses can't exist and succeed without an educated workforce.
"Higher Education is what we are all about," said Markey. "Children may only be 25% of our population, but they are 100% of our future."
He talked about the numbers of college graduates who stay in Massachusetts, including more than 80% of Framingham State University graduates.
"We are the Bay State, but ultimately we are the brain state," said Markey.
"MetroWest is an idea factory. We do a good job of linking inventors with investors," said Markey. "MetroWest is putting together these new companies, who are creating these new opportunities."
Markey said "too many people continue to look in a rear view mirror." MetroWest and its companies are looking to the future, he added.
Markey said in the past 20 years we have gone from "black rotary-dialed phones to Blackberries."
And that in 20 years we may be in a society, where children do not know what it is to put gasoline in a car.
"We have to drive this revolution," he said. " We need to think smarter, not harder."
Markey also spent time talking about the cost of health care.
Not only do Republicans want to "slash Medicare and Medicaid," which helps fund treatment for people with Alzheimer's disease but they also want to cut funding to the National Institutes of Health, which is busy trying to find a cure to the disease, that by the year 2050 could affect 15 million people. Markey said if a cure is not found by the year 2050, treating Alzheimer's patients could cost $1 trillion a year.
Alzheimer's disease is a personal issue for the congressman. His late mother suffered from the disease before she died. He also told stories of his late father who took care of his ailing wife in their home, instead of a nursing home.
Markey, who grew up in Malden, told several stories of his childhood and his family yesterday. Each story related how he and this current generation were given opportunities his parents and grandparents didn't have. He said this generation must accepted the challenge to provide opportunities for the next generation, and that MetroWest is leading the way in doing so.
Markey ended the afternoon answering questions from the audience. The final question asked how the Congressman would reduce the nation's deficit.
He said he would:
* Implement more effective ways to control Medicare and Medicaid costs
* Cut tax breaks to the wealthy
* Make sure the defense department is not immune to budget cuts