Tea Party Patriots interviews former Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Allen West
Dustin Siggins: How are you doing at CPAC today?
LTC Allen West: I’m doing very well. I’ve been up already, doing interviews, conducted some interviews with Next Generation TV shows
DS: How are things since you left Congress? What have you been up to?
AW: I’ve been sitting here in the booth of PJ Media and our Next Generation Initiative, that has been my main focus. I’ve been doing a news program, an interview program, that tries to crystallize the news for young people, the Millennial Generation, to get them involved and get them the truth, but also get that bridge to their parents and grandparents, to get all demographics out there.
DS: Speaking of demographics, there are multiple issues facing Americans as a whole, young people – the Debt-Paying Generation, given what’s going on – which would you say is the group facing the greatest number of issues, and how would you solve them?
AW: Well, I’ll go right back to what former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, has said that our debt is our greatest issue we’re facing, our greatest national security issue. If we can’t turn this thing around, we’re going to destroy the future for our children and grandchildren. I have two daughters, 19 and 17, I don’t want them to be saddled with the type of debt we’re looking at. I disagree with the President when he says $17 trillion it’s not an immediate risk, it’s not an immediate concern. It absolutely is an immediate concern.
I’m also concerned about energy independence. We have a great opportunity with the XL Pipeline. We’ve seen gas go from $1.84 per gallon in January 2009 to $3.73. You don’t hear anyone in the mainstream media talking about that anymore. In fact, you just heard [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi just a couple of days ago say that she doesn’t think the Keystone Pipeline will really do anything with regards to bringing jobs to this country. That’s the kind of delusion we have in Washington, D.C., and that’s what we have to stand against.
DS: When it comes to the national debt, it’s expected that interest is going to skyrocket in the next 10 years, especially as our economy gets better. What steps do you think Congress should take specifically with cuts, regards to reforms, tax reforms, economic reforms, in the next couple of years?
AW: Absolutely. You’ve got 3 to 4 things you’ve got to do with regards to reform. The first is tax reform. I think our progressive tax reform – I’m a flat-tax guy. I think we should move towards a flat tax. You look at the 100 years since the income tax, the top marginal tax rate was 7 percent. Now the top marginal top tax rate is 39.6 percent. Even Calvin Coolidge recognized, when he was President – he cut the high top marginal tax rate to 24 percent, and the economy boomed.
This applies to the capital gains rate, dividend taxes, the corporate business tax rate – the highest in the world – we’ve got to bring those down, and you can cut loopholes to do that. We’ve got to start making things again.
You’ve got to reform regulations. We’re constraining growth, especially small business. And the last thing is, you’ve got to look at our monetary policy. We cannot continue to print money in order to boost our economy. That is absolutely insane. What that’s doing is shooting ourselves in the foot, because you’re creating inflationary environment that causes your gas prices to go up, your food prices to go up, especially at a time when we’re seeing a decrease of household income of 3.6 percent.
So these are some things I think we need to do, and energy security is part of it. It’s part of restoring your economy, it’s part of getting jobs here, it’s part of integrating manufacturing.
DS: One thing Tea Party Patriots is spending cuts and spending reforms. What would you like to see cut or instituted to have a great effect before 10 years from now, when Social Security, Medicare, and interest are expected to skyrocket.
AW: Right now, there are $200, $250 billion of redundant and duplicative programs, according to the GAO reports. Let’s start there. There are 17,000 recommendations from agency Inspector Generals that would immediately give us $67 billion in cuts across all agencies. I think we need to look at agencies that have not met up to their original intent and purpose, and streamline those agencies. The Department of Energy is one. You know, the federal government with regards to the Department of Education – when we first broke it out from federal Health & Welfare, and the standards of education have gone in the opposite direction, even though we’re throwing dollars in there. That’s another area.
You know, foreign aid is about two, 2.1% of the federal budget. But you’ve got to be smart about where you’re sending your money. We shouldn’t be sending $250 million to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
So those are the areas where we can start immediately, and the American people can immediately start seeing cuts.
DS: Last question: Sequestration is obviously 50% targeted at the military. You’re a former LTC in the military, I did eight years in the National Guard –
AW: Thank you.
DS: — so I understand. But even in defense, the GAO reports look at duplication in defense. Sequestration aside, do you think that Congress can effectively, without harming the troops, cut military spending? Sequestration, obviously, is hitting Army and Marine tuition assistance, rather than [Senator] Tom Coburn’s list of wasteful spending –
AW: The President has made a decision to inflict pain, so he went after tuition assistance. The Budget Control Act of 2011 targeted $487 billion in cuts to the military over the next 10 years. There is fraud. There is waste. There are places where we can find reductions in spending. One of the first pieces of legislation I passed as a Member of Congress, in April, 393-0, was to cut three programs from the Defense Department, got rid of it, at $350 billion over 10 years. Everyone should be doing that.
Sequestration puts another $47 billion on top of that. NOW you’re starting to effect the ammunition for training, affect spare parts, etc. That’s why I say we should find those cuts somewhere else.
What does the Constitution say? The first responsibility of the federal government is to provide for the common defense so that we can secure the blessings of liberty. We got to have a federal government that’s smart, we got to have a federal government that knows its roles and responsibilities, that can prioritize its spending. However, if you don’t have a budget…
Do you know where I’m going? 1,421 day, you don’t know how to prioritize your spending, and you continue to use Continuing Resolutions, which means you’re going to spend money exactly where you are.