UNION, NJ – U.S. Senator Cory Booker and State Senator Joe Cryan jointly met with residents at a town hall meeting Friday evening in the Union Municipal building. The town hall-style meeting was highlighted by discussions on issues including the judiciary, healthcare, and national and state concerns and a variety of topics brought up by an energized audience of more than 200.
In response to a question about the appointment of district court and supreme court judges, Booker said, “this is an issue that really has me fired up.”
Booker, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said President Trump has appointed more judges in his first year or so in office than any president over the last 50 years. He will be appointing a significant number of judges on the federal judiciary.
Booker noted his concerns that there are voting rights, LGBTQ rights, worker rights, environmental rights, money in politics and other issues being decided right now by a court that’s slowing shifting.
Adding to Booker’s concerns about the judiciary on the state level, Cryan cited the recent re-nomination of Judge Anne Patterson by the New Jersey Senate. Cryan, the only senator who did not vote for her re-nomination, said “she herself represents that she is very conservative.” He cited one example of her ruling for for-profit colleges, when students tried to sue to get their money back when there were issues surrounding the quality of their education. “Those sort of decisions seemed as though she was out of touch, not only with the 20th District, but with the State of New Jersey.”
On the issue of healthcare, Booker said, “we have made some big strides when the Affordable Care Act came in.” He said some current legal cases are aiming to take down the entire Affordable Care Act.
“The number one issue that people are concerned with is the cost of healthcare and included in that is the cost of prescription drugs,” continued Booker. He said aside from the threats to the Affordable Care Act from the courts, other threats are the Trump administration’s attempts to undermine the ACA in other ways. Booker said the federal government has stopped cost sharing payments, whereby insurance companies are not receiving cost sharing from the federal government, so they are passed through to the states creating rising healthcare costs, “so all of our healthcare costs went up.”
Booker said the administration also eliminated the individual mandate, which mandates all citizens to have health insurance. More young, healthy enrollees into a healthcare plan lowers costs to everyone. Booker said only two states, Massachusetts and New Jersey, requires mandatory health insurance, beginning January 1, 2019.
“We are all better off when all of us have the opportunity for healthcare coverage and all of the preventative things that go with it,” added Cryan. “I can’t emphasize it enough. When all of us have access to healthcare, all of us are better off.”
Booker discussed the importance of voting, particularly among millennials. “All millennials in this country believe in common sense gun safety, overwhelmingly believe in a woman’s right to control her own body, that someone shouldn’t be fired just because they’re gay. The problem is those folks are not voting. It’s not enough to register. If they go and vote, they can change elections.”
Booker closed with remarks expressing his continuing optimism. “Hope,” he said, “is the active conviction that despair will never have the last word.” He and Cryan encouraged all to participate in the 2018 elections.
Editor's Note: In the interest of transparency, TAPinto Union's publisher, Kathy Cryan, is married to Senator Joseph Cryan.