DANBURY, Conn. — America wants big changes and they see President-elect Donald Trump as the man who can make that happen, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said during a Pancake & Politics Breakfast on Monday morning at the American Legion Post 60 in Danbury.
To a packed room of over 100 people, Murphy said he was shocked by Trump's victory last week, but “given what the national polls were saying, people in this country right now are hurting.
"They see this economy technically getting better, and yet it doesn’t seem like their lives are getting better, and so the candidates who are talking about doing big revolutionary things were rewarded," Murphy said as he found some common ground with the Republican president-elect.
Murphy agreed with Trump that incremental fixes to the economy won't work. "You’ve got to propose some big drastic changes," he said.
And Trump is right that “the system is seemingly rigged against the little guy," Murphy said.
“There is not as much opportunity for economic mobility as there used to be. You’ve got to do some big things to re-create wage growth and job growth in this country,"
But Murphy said one of the issues he personally feels strongest about is reducing the wait time for people who need services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I issued a report that showed the number of veterans who died while waiting for their claim to be processed for disability or for a pension, and the result of that injustice was that the spouse never got the benefit," he said.
“Hopefully we are going to be able to work together in a bipartisan way to put more funding in the VA so we can shorten the wait times for health care and for processing claims."
A second concern for Murphy is gaining passage for a mental health reform bill, which he said might happen before the end of the year.
The bill would Invest in early identification of mental illnesses, especially for young children. "It gives teachers, social workers and coaches training to see the warning signs of mental illness," Murphy said.
He also spoke of the problem of college affordability in the United States. “It’s 300 percent more expensive to go to college today in real dollars than it was in 1980," he said.
At the breakfast, Murphy also recognized four local people for their commitment to the country:
- Daniel Hayes, director of Veterans Affairs for the City of Danbury and a Newtown resident. Hayes is a combat veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism in Operation Desert Storm.
- Thomas J. Saadi, chief of staff and general counsel at the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs, was a major in the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion in the U.S. Army Reserve.
- Steve Fako, commander of American Legion Post No. 60, who served during in Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Navy.
- Joseph Taylor, a senior at Immaculate High School in Danbury, who was nominated by Murphy to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.