Booker: Trump Policies 'Literally' Could 'Cause People's Death'

Democrat also calls for 'radical love'

Cory Booker
Cory Booker / Getty Images
March 21, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker said Donald Trump's policies could "literally" cause people to die, during the same interview where he called for "radical love" in politics.

During an interview on "Pod Save America," the New Jersey senator told former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, "I do what I have to do to get shit done," before flip-flopping on his position in favor of the Senate filibuster.

Booker blamed the budget reconciliation process for eroding the Senate, which requires only a simple majority and was first used during the Obama administration to make changes to Obamacare after Sen. Ted Kennedy's death.

He said reconciliation has allowed the Republican majority to do "awful things," such as allowing most Americans to keep more of their money.

"I understand that the erosion of the Senate, already, has allowed this [Republican] party to do awful things, Trump tax cut, for example," Booker said. "And if I was president I want people to know very tactfully, let's talk tactics, I will use reconciliation to roll back the Trump tax credits, and do the kind of things that I think to have a tax system that reflects our values, our morals, and frankly what is better for our economy."

Booker acknowledged that the leftward pull of his party is urging him to accept the position of eliminating the filibuster, which requires a 60-vote threshold to pass legislation. Just two months ago Booker said, "We should not be doing anything to mess with the strength of the filibuster."

"So when you talk about changing the filibuster rule, I understand that we are heading, right now, we are heading that way, to people on both sides," Booker said. "We are heading that way. You hear Trump calling for the end of the filibuster rule all the time. And I understand that if I am the commander in chief, the president of the United States, fighting a tactical battle, that, that is something that we are moving towards."

Booker continued to argue that eliminating the filibuster would be dangerous with Republicans in power, who would "literally" enact policies "that could cause people's death."

"But understand my perspective on this, which comes from decades of living in one of the most vulnerable communities in the country," he said. "And if Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump for the last two years had complete sway, they wouldn't have just changed policy, which is nice, they would have hurt people in my community."

"Literally doing policies that could cause people's death," Booker said.

Booker's example of Republican policies that could cause people to die was "attacking" Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, which performed 332,757 abortions in fiscal year 2017.

"When we had a Republican governor in the state of New Jersey just something like attacking Planned Parenthood for women in my community who rely on Planned Parenthood for their health care," Booker said. "Planned Parenthood has had to end hours, close options."

Booker then bemoaned "people of privilege."

"I know that these policies that people debate—I love when people of privilege say, 'Oh, that doesn't make a difference if I vote or not.' I say, 'Come to my neighborhood, and see if the outcomes of elections don't make a difference," he said. "And to give those three men [Trump, McConnell, Ryan] absolute power to do anything they want, having lived my life as a minority, I like minority rights. And so, so I will balance that against—and I know, because I've had this conversation, you fire a lot of people up on your podcast who come to me, and make very real—no, not very evangelical arguments—very practical arguments. So I'm going to tell you that for me that door is not closed."

Before he accused Republican policies of causing people to die, Booker promised his presidential campaign would offer the country "radical love."

"People want to say love is a soft, namby, sort of like, 'Oh, kumbaya' sentiment," he said. "I think it's the most ferocious, tough, hard, force there is."