"THE CORRUPTION IN ALBANY MUST END" An interview with GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio
BY: FERN SIDMAN
For New Yorkers who are angered and frustrated by the corruption that has
plagued politics in Albany for many years now, the upcoming gubernatorial
mid-term election races offer viable alternatives in terms of candidates. Having
represented New York's 2nd congressional district for four terms from 1993-2001,
Republican Rick Lazio is challenging Democrat Andrew Cuomo for the state's
highest office. With a platform predicated on bold reforms and a concrete plan
to battle corruption, I sat down with Mr. Lazio to discuss some issues effecting
FS: Concerning healthcare reform, as you know, the Medicaid system in New
York spends 73% more per recipient than the country as a whole and 25% more than
California, which covers twice as many people. What would you do to make
Medicaid a more efficient system?
RL: I'm totally in favor of reforming and revamping our Medicaid program.
We must move Medicaid to a managed care system in order to streamline costs. The
taxpayers in this state are already been strangled by exorbitant taxes and with
the rising cost of healthcare for employers, we must move with alacrity to
remedy this problem. Those on the Medicaid rolls should be encouraged to seek
appropriate healthcare and that means each recipient should have a primary care
doctor who can oversee their follow up care if they need to see a specialist.
What has proven to be extremely costly to our system are those Medicaid
recipients who visit their local hospital emergency rooms when they have a
health crisis, rather than seeing their own doctor. Incentives should be
provided such as beneficiaries having stored value cards in order to get the
right level of care. Provider reimbursement should be harmonized and doctors and
hospitals should be extended the same reimbursements and the co-pays should be
managed accordingly. I am also in favor of enforcing an anti-fraud program to
the Medicaid system because each year there is over $5 billion in Medicaid
fraud. We want to promote the very best healthcare system for all New Yorkers
and in order to do that we must investigate medical supply companies and other
who are bilking the system and hence increasing taxes in our state.
FS: How would you address the burgeoning unemployment rates in New York
State and what would you do to help stimulate the economy?
RL: There is no doubt that we must focus our efforts on putting people
back to work immediately. There has been way too much emphasis on stimulus money
to create jobs and that's just not happening. New York ranks 49th out of 50
states that are business friendly and that's just deplorable. The fact that our
state is laden with high taxes drives individuals and their businesses out of
the state. We must encourage the creation start up businesses to stimulate the
private economy in New York. We must take a good hard look at the tax
environment that we find ourselves in and we must put an end to the political
chaos in Albany, where the state legislature can't get a budget done. Our
government is unpredictable and Bush era tax credits have been revoked for
businesses. Subsidiaries that provide energy costs have also lapsed. The more
people that are employed translates into fewer dollars being taken out of
businesses for taxes. The core part of our strategy is to restart the growth
engine, get the costs to businesses down by reducing business taxes, rewarding
startup companies and creating a new capital gains structure. Another source of
major capitol and economic development are our colleges and universities. New
York is a state of great people, with great skills and ingenuity and I am sure
we can do exciting things in this wonderful empire state.
FS: You've come out against the construction of the proposed mosque at
Ground Zero. Could you tell us why you are against it and what do you think
of offers to have the mosque built on state property?
RL: I stand in staunch opposition to the construction of the proposed
mosque close to Ground Zero. What we need here is complete transparency as this
issue is not about religion. I would immediately demand a full accounting for
where the funding is coming from for the construction of this $100 million
dollar building. Clearly, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who is behind this project is
ducking the question of why he refuses to label Hamas a terrorist organization,
when the US government lists Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization. We also
know that Hamas is behind the incessant rocket attacks on Israel's southern
border. Imam Rauf has said that America was an accomplice to the 9/11 attacks on
our country and that "Osama Bin Laden was made in the USA". When Imam Rauf was
asked whether he would take money from Iranian sources to build this mosque, he
refused to answer and if he can't respond to that kind of question, one could
believe that he and others involved in this project may have sympathies with
radical Islamist organizations.The Imam has also been associated with the
Turkish terrorist organization who was behind the flotilla that sought to
smuggle arms to terrorists in Gaza Just a few short years ago, Sharif El-Gamal
and his brother Sammy El-Gamal of Soho Properties who are the developers of the
Ground Zero Mosque were waiting tables in New York City. Where did all their
money come from?
Andrew Cuomo is the attorney general of New York and as such, he could
eliminate the controversy that swirls around this mosque by launching an
investigation into the group's monetary sources. People really need to get their
voices on this issue because if Iran is even partially funding this mosque then
we can expect that those preaching in it will be promoting terrorism against the
United States and Israel. Iran has already threatened to wipe our ally Israel
off the map while the whole world sleeps. America must never allow Iran to
obtain nuclear weapons and we must do everything in our power to protect
Israel. I believe in solidifying relationships with our good friends such as
Israel and working to ensure her safety and dealing forcefully with our avowed
enemies such as Iran.
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