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Pataki assails Reid’s ‘corrupt’ health care deals

Scott Sonner
Associated Press Writer

RENO, Nev. (AP) – The Obama administration’s health care reforms would not be law without “corrupt deals” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cut to pass them against the will of most Americans, former New York GOP Gov. George Pataki said Monday.

Pataki assailed the Nevada Democrat before about 150 people at a rally in Reno as part of a national campaign to build support for repeal of the reforms. His group “Revere America” was headed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home state of California later Monday to continue the petition drive seeking 1 million signatures across the country.

Pataki said Reid agreed to special favors in negotiations with senators in Louisiana and Nebraska as the Senate majority leader sought the votes he needed to pass the reforms.

“They got those votes by things like the ‘Louisiana Purchase’ and the ‘Cornhusker Kickback,’ corrupt deals I have never seen in my life,” said Pataki, a Republican who served three terms as governor ending in 2006.

“And I wonder who it was who put together those deals so that ‘Obama-care’ – that the people didn’t want – could get through the United States Senate? I think you know the answer to that,” he said as several in the crowd shouted, “Harry Reid.”

Democrats ultimately cut from the final health care bill the special Medicaid funds for Nebraska that had become a symbol of backdoor deal making, but they retained a deal that Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu negotiated for her state, Louisiana.

Pataki said the January election of Republican Sen. Scott Brown in traditionally Democratic Massachusetts should have sent a message that the public opposed the reforms.

“Yet the majority leader of the U.S. Senate rammed it through, basically ignoring the rules of the Senate and the wishes of the American people,” Pataki told The Associated Press.

“Now it is the people’s turn to speak and we think they are going to speak loudly and clearly,” he said before the rally, where activists waved signs that read “Privatize Harry Reid” and “I’m Not Wild About Harry.”

Gov. Jim Gibbons, U.S. Rep. Dean Heller and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki were among the prominent Nevada Republicans to address the crowd in Reno. Heller paused when an ambulance passed with siren blaring, then said, “That’s what we want to do with ‘Obama-care.'”

Danny Tarkanian, the son of former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian who is seeking the GOP nomination to face Reid in November, also attended the rally, as did campaign aides for two other Republicans vying for that seat – Sue Lowden and Sharron Angle.

“Another day, another out-of-state Republican trying to tell Nevadans what’s best for them,” Reid campaign spokesman Kelly Steele said.

“The truth is Pataki and GOP candidates Angle, Lowden and Tarkanian want to increase taxes for 24,000 Nevada small businesses, raise prescription drug prices for 518,000 Nevada seniors by reopening the Medicare doughnut hole, and eliminate all accountability for big insurance companies by allowing them to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions,” he said.

Pataki launched the campaign in Boston on Sunday, the 235th anniversary of the day Paul Revere began his famous ride from Charlestown to Lexington, Mass., warning American colonists that the British were coming.

“Our liberty is in danger again,” he said Monday in Reno. “Our freedom is at risk – not at the end of the barrel of a gun, but at the stroke of a pen in Washington from people who don’t listen to the American people.”

Pataki announced last week he is not a candidate for the U.S. Senate in New York. He told the AP on Monday he “won’t even think about” the possibility of making a 2012 presidential bid until after the November elections.

“There are going to be a lot of good people in 2012. We can’t wait 21/2 years to take our government back,” he said.

“My focus, and I think those of us who believe this government is headed rapidly in the wrong direction believe our focus should be not on 2012 but on 2010 and electing majorities in both houses of Congress who believe in limited government and less spending, lower taxes and respecting the wishes of the people.”


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