Fmr. NYC Mayor Supports Health Care Bill

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," November 19, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: In the meantime, he could get taxed by it, could even lose some benefits from it, but he is still all for it. I'm talking about Harry Reid's new health care bill.

And I'm talking about former Democratic New York City Mayor Ed Koch — the mayor right now on the mend, after having major heart surgery. And he's getting prepared to celebrate a big birthday not too far away, 85, right?


CAVUTO: And you are OK saying that?

KOCH: I am absolutely fine. I had a quadruple bypass, but I'm back at work full-time. I doing everything that I did before.

CAVUTO: You're amazing. Well, congratulations.

KOCH: Thank you.

CAVUTO: Continued good health. I think it was Mayor Bloomberg who said they want to be around for your centennial. That would be 2024.


CAVUTO: Let me ask you, Mayor, though, would we have — the criticism of the health care package is that the type of top-quality care you got would be compromised under the health care the president is looking at. What do you think?

KOCH: Personally, I am for the health care legislation, and I hope it gets voted out and supported. And then we will improve it, because I don't like it the way it currently is.

CAVUTO: What don't you like?

KOCH: Well, for example, I have what they refer to as a Cadillac policy. But it is paid for privately by my law firm, by me. And it ensured the fact that I had coverage that was up to $1 million in the hospital with my quadruple bypass.

I was in the ICU for five weeks. And I could have died. Twenty doctors worked on me. Now, if I want to buy a Cadillac policy with my money, instead of a car, a Cadillac, shouldn't I have that right, or will I have to pay a tax under the legislation that...

CAVUTO: Well, what they're saying is, you would pay a tax on the Cadillac, you're going to pay a tax on the Cadillac care.

KOCH: It is ridiculous. I mean, why should health care be subject to an additional tax? I — I just don't understand it.

If you get it through your employer, you are not paying a tax. Because I'm paying for it, I have to pay I think it's a 35 percent tax? I think it is wrong. I think the abortion limitations are wrong. There are other things that are wrong.

But I would still vote for it if I were in the House or the Senate, and then try to improve it with the passage of time.

CAVUTO: Well, before you were mayor and became a rock star, you were in the House of Representatives.

KOCH: Yes.

CAVUTO: And the House has a different way to pay for this, and by putting a surtax on rich guys like you.

KOCH: I have no problem...

CAVUTO: What do you think of that?

KOCH: I have no problem with taxing people based on their income. I have a problem...

CAVUTO: At 5.4 percent?

KOCH: Whatever it is, it should be fair. We can argue and debate that. But we have a graduated income tax. I have no problem with taxing.

CAVUTO: This is going to be really graduated.

KOCH: I must say, you can argue the amount, but the principle is OK.

CAVUTO: But better that than to tax rich plans?

KOCH: Than to tax policies of insurance. I just think that's wrong.

CAVUTO: But you don't think, in any of this, Mayor, that any of the quality care that you got...

KOCH: Yes.

CAVUTO: ... would be compromised, because you would have 28 million, 30 million more Americans being part of this system?

KOCH: Well...

CAVUTO: So, they're not creating 28 million to 30 million more doctors, right?

KOCH: Listen, I don't want to live because you sacrificed the lives of 30 million other people who don't have coverage. But the fact is, everybody gets medical care. But they don't get good medical care.

CAVUTO: But wouldn't it be compromised just following the math, that many more people coming on the system?

KOCH: It may very well be that you have to get more doctors, less specialists, and all of those things. And, with the passage of time, you will.

But I believe that medical care is a right that should be extended to our whole population.

CAVUTO: OK. Could I switch gears, if you don't mind?

KOCH: Sure.

CAVUTO: I had one of your successors here, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was upset, livid, in fact, that the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial was going to be coming to New York, said that it's in the shadow of the World Trade Center that he bragged about bringing down. This city doesn't need this all over again, nor to be made an even bigger target than it already is.

KOCH: I agree with Mayor Giuliani.

And I would take it even further. I think you endanger the outcome of the prosecution. There is, in the federal civil court, a rule of speedy trial, 60 days, unless the defendant fails to make himself available. This guy has been in federal incarceration for eight years.

I believe that, when he offers the defense of having been tortured — he was, after all, subject to 183 water-boardings — that they may very well throw out his confession, which is what they are depending on to convict him.

I think it is a gross error to remove it from the military courts. It's just dumb.

CAVUTO: You would kept him at Gitmo? You would have kept Gitmo around?

KOCH: I don't care whether it's — yes, I would keep Gitmo. But the fact is...

CAVUTO: You certainly wouldn't bring him to New York.

KOCH: Under two different circumstances. If the Supreme Court said he had to be tried in civil court, New York is no better than any other city in the country, has to do its duty.

But the Supreme Court has not said he has to be tried in a federal civil court, so far as I know. And, therefore, if it is a matter of discretion, I would try him in the military court, whether the military court is at Fort Dix or in Guantanamo.

CAVUTO: But isn't it weird, though, Mayor — I see your point, but if the argument is that he could get off on a technicality, like you say, if the water-boardings are seen as abusive duress...

KOCH: Torture.

CAVUTO: ... the torture, then he walks and could have a pretzel in New York.

KOCH: But not in a military court.

CAVUTO: I understand that. But the administration then hinted that, well, no, we would never let him go in that...

KOCH: What does that mean?

CAVUTO: So — well, that's what I'm asking you. Is this then a charade?

KOCH: Yes.

I believe that, politically, they are as dumb as they can be. This is the most unpopular decision that the president has made. And it will come up in next year's election. And the Democrats will have additional losses, over and above those that they normally get in a biennial election.

CAVUTO: So, this is going to cost them beyond just what they could experience on the economy?

KOCH: Definitely.


KOCH: The people of New York is a state that is solidly Democratic. On this issue, they will repudiate the Democrats.

CAVUTO: Very interesting. Mayor, please continued good health..

KOCH: Thank you.

CAVUTO: We always love having your comments and your movie reviews. You've got to get back to more of those.



CAVUTO: All right. Mayor Ed Koch, three terms, this city's highest official.

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