U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told a packed house at the Back Nine Cafe on Wednesday to fight to take government control back from big business.
"How do Fortune 500 companies pay zero in taxes while college loans go up to 6 percent?" she asked. "This game is rigged."
The consumer must "get up and fight," she said. "You've all got to be there to fight."
Warren was guest speaker at the Community Development Partnership's annual meeting.
It was her first official Cape visit since being sworn in as a U.S. senator, said Jay Coburn, executive director of the partnership.
The Harvard law professor won the seat from Republican Scott Brown in 2012.
Warren's work as a consumer advocate meshes with the goals of the Lower Cape nonprofit agency, which provides loans for local businesses and affordable housing programs.
In its 20 years, the organization has granted $2.5 million in micro loans to 140 businesses from Harwich to Provincetown, Coburn said.
Coburn said he became a fan of the future senator when he first heard her in 2007 being interviewed by National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" host Terry Gross on the topic of credit cards.
In that show, Warren revealed the various ways the credit card companies nailed consumers with fees, including mailing bills from the West Coast to the East Coast, thus making the mailing time so long people would get hit with late fees, Coburn said.
Coburn then got to know her on the campaign trail while working on election campaigns for state Sen. Daniel Wolf, D-Harwich.
Warren spoke passionately about the ways in which citizens are being hurt by a lack of consumer protection in Washington, D.C.
The interest rate on many college loans is set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent
At the same time, there are Fortune 500 companies paying zero in taxes, she said.
Automatic budgets cuts are hurting the Head Start program, which helps low-income children, and the Meals on Wheels program, she said. Meanwhile, she said, the big agricultural businesses take in millions in subsidies.
An audience member asked how fishermen could work "to bring back our codfish." As federal regulators continue to restrict the amount of allowable catch, fishermen are losing income.
Warren said the federal government has declared the Northeast groundfish fishery a disaster, but the House of Representatives has blocked funding tied to the designation.
Disaster relief is granted to farmers during a drought and people harmed by storms, and fishermen should be given the same kind of help, she said.
Warren vowed to keep trying to help fishing families. "Fishing has been part of New England for 400 years. We will not let it disappear on our watch."
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