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Gephardt says GOP hand-in-hand with special interests

Richard Gephardt
Richard Gephardt  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top Democrat in the House on Saturday accused President Bush and Republican leaders of forming a "powerful alliance" with special interests to thwart progress on energy prices and HMO reform and to weaken Social Security.

"President Bush has not yet lived up to his promise to be a reformer with results," House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Missouri, said in the weekly Democratic radio address. "During the campaign, he said he would fight for bipartisan bills with strong support from all Americans. But instead of putting people first, too often he has put special interests first."

Gephardt pointed to media reports that GOP leaders are pressing utility companies to launch a television advertising campaign against price caps on electricity, which he decried as "cynical efforts, in tandem with special interests, that attack sensible solutions to people's problems."

He also referred to media reports that Wall Street investment firms plan to spend as much as $20 million to promote Bush's plan to allow some Social Security funds to be invested in the private market.

"Wall Street stands to make large profits if the Republican plan passes, and it intends to spend millions now in the hopes of a big return later," he said.

Gephardt also accused Republicans of allying themselves with the insurance industry to pass a "watered-down" version of the patients' bill of rights, rather than a version supported by Democrats that he said "would put medical decisions back in the hands of doctors and patients" and "make HMOs more accountable to patients."

The Democratic leader also issued a call to pass campaign finance reform to combat the influence of special interests.

"We need to clean up the system and restore the faith of the American people in their democracy," he said.

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