POLITICS
01/15/2014 10:44 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Former NY Gov. George Pataki Criticizes 'Permanent Political Class,' Suggests Term Limits

Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) criticized Washington politicians who seek to “stay here forever and say nothing” in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s "Street Smart" on Tuesday.

“One of the worst things about people getting elected to Washington is once they get there, they want to stay there,” Pataki said.

The former three-term governor recalled the advice of a fellow Republican during his first week as a New York state assemblyman as he criticized the complacent attitudes and self-serving priorities of perennial lawmakers:

I remember when I got elected to the state assembly, the first week I’m there, I’m standing up saying some stupid thing and the guy next to me, Republican, goes, ‘You know, Pataki, if you stay here, sit down and keep your head down, you could stay here forever.’ I was thinking, is that what I want to do? Stay here forever and say nothing? But I honestly think that’s the mentality of many in Washington: priority number one, getting reelected; priority number two, being in the majority; priority number three, doing what’s right for the people. That is wrong.

Pataki suggested keeping congressional term limits short -- eight years for House members and 12 years for senators -- and advised politicians retiring from public office to “go home” instead of furthering their political careers as lobbyists or consultants.

“We never had the concept of 'we have a political class that is our rulers, and then we have the public' -- and yet that’s the way it is,” Pataki said. “We have a permanent political class, whether they’re in office, or they leave public office, they stay in Washington and they dictate our lives. It’s not the way America is supposed to work, and it’s wrong.”

Pataki also discussed New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s recent “Bridgegate” scandal, calling the event “horrific” and an “embarrassment” before defending Christie’s chances of a presidential bid in 2016.

“Assuming Gov. Christie had nothing to do with this … I think he is still someone who is a very formidable national candidate who Republicans, Democrats and independents should continue to look at,” Pataki said during Tuesday's interview with Bloomberg. “He has been a successful Republican governor in a Democratic state. I know that is not an easy thing to do.”

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