Just weeks after heart surgery, former Mayor Ed Koch is feeling as feisty as ever, taking shots at President Obama's health care plan, the “bums” in the state Legislature and the ugly side of Rudy Giuliani.
Still obsessed with politics and fresh from his close encounter with the health care system, the feisty 84-year-old said he supports Obama as a president, but he has been struck by the outrage the health care debate has spurred.
Koch said he’s not convinced Obama’s health care plan would allow someone like him, with private insurance, to receive the same care. He said the estimated cost of his current hospital turn was $1 million.
“I don’t want a Cadillac and I don’t own property," said Koch, who has written an article about health care reform called “Falling Out of Love With Barack Obama.” "But when I want to have an insurance policy paid for by my law firm that is gold plated. No limit."
Koch also said he’s still a loyal Democrat – yet a strong supporter of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“Michael Bloomberg has established that he is a superb mayor,” he said. "I like Bill Thompson. But I'm still supporting Michael Bloomberg."
As for the State’s Gov. David Paterson?
"It's a sad case," Koch said.
Koch said he likes Paterson and hopes to see him stage a comeback, despite low approval ratings. But, he admits, "it doesn't look good."
Koch saved his strongest words for the New York Senate and the month-long power struggle started by two rogue Democrats earlier this summer.
“If I could have my way, we would throw them all out, the good and the bad, and form a new party,” he said.
“You’ve got to sweep the bums out and there’s no other way to describe the vast majority of people in the state Legislature," he said. "Dems and Repubs -- as other than bums.”
"Our party now looks like a Banana Republic. That Pedro Espada, could, through what is political extortion, get his son a $150,000 state job. That's nepotism. It shouldn't be allowed."
As for a possible gubernatorial run by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani? Koch calls the Republican “a formidable opponent” that would execute the office well. But, Koch says Rudy’s character is his downfall.
“I thought he was a good mayor but a nasty person,” he said. “He doesn’t respect other people.”
For his part, Koch has a new lease on life and he's following doctors' orders -- among them, to gain weight. On the top of the list? Ice cream and Peking duck.