Congressman Allen West tells Newsmax that President Barack Obama has “complete contempt” for Congress and is starting to believe that he has an “imperial presidency.”
The Florida Republican says Newt Gingrich is the “smartest” GOP candidate but thinks any of the Republican hopefuls can beat Obama in what undoubtedly will be a “brutal bloodbath.”
West also asserts that sanctions will not succeed in deterring Iran’s belligerency and warns that the United States should not cut the defense budget to make the military the “bill-payer” for Washington’s failure to rein in spending.
West, who was elected in 2010, is a member of the House Tea Party Caucus. He is also an Army veteran who served for more than 20 years, with postings in several combat zones, and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.President Obama has said he is hopeful for an improved economy in 2012. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, West was asked whether Americans should feel that way.“No, they shouldn’t,” West declares. “President Obama is just going to sit back and hope that things fall into his lap.
“He’s not going to do anything as far as reforming our tax code so that our small business owners have some sort of predictability. He’s not going to do anything to lower the corporate tax rate and eliminate loopholes. He’s not going to do anything to correct the regulatory environment that his administration is putting forth. In 2011, his administration added more than 71,000 pages of new regulations to the federal registry. That’s not how we’re going to heal this economy.”
Asked whether Obama has given up on “hope and change,” West responds: “I think the president has given up, period, and he’s in a campaign mode. He’s going to disengage from Washington, D.C. That’s not leadership, that’s an abdication of leadership.
“What concerns me is the rhetoric around [Obama’s recent recess appointments]. He is going to bypass Congress. He has a complete contempt for the legislative branch. We don’t have an imperial presidency, but I think that is what he’s starting to believe.
“We have to be very vociferous about this. We’ve got to get in the arena and battle the president and the liberal progressive ideology in the arena of ideas.”
In response to Iran’s continuing nuclear development program and threats to shut off the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf, West tells Newsmax: “I think you have to make sure a credible military option is still on the table.
“Sanctions will only have an effect if the regime cares about the standard of living of their people. That’s not the case, so you have to have a viable military threat, because in that part of the world despots, dictators, autocrats, and theocrats only understand strength and might, and that’s what we have to show.”
West criticizes Obama for his recent announcement of deep cuts in the military budget.
“The military cannot be the bill-payer for the fiscal irresponsibility in Washington, D.C., because the military budget is only about 19.6 percent of our overall budget. The driver of our debt is the 62 percent that we spend on the interest on our debt, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. So it is cowardice to not confront that 62 percent and pick on the military.”
With the New Hampshire primary today and primaries in South Carolina and his home state Florida looming, West says he still has no plans to endorse any particular GOP candidate. But he has high praise for Newt Gingrich.
“I think without a doubt he has proven to be the smartest person out there,” West says.
“He has won all the debates. He definitely has a clear vision as far as where he wants to take the country. But I think the negative ads that were run against him out in Iowa really put a little chink in his armor. Now it’s a matter of can he recover from that in New Hampshire and then in South Carolina and Florida. I think he is probably the biggest competitor for Governor [Mitt] Romney as we go forward.
“Mitt Romney really has to prove himself as far as being a true conservative. A lot of people are looking at his record when he governed in Massachusetts, a blue state, and they want to know he will go with the right kind of policies because, when you look at Speaker Gingrich, there are some incredible accomplishments — the fact that he balanced the budget for a series of years, and welfare reform.”
West also downplayed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s strong showing in the Iowa caucuses.
“Look at what the Iowa caucus is — a reflection of a very simple point: 120,000 voters. Well, you’ve got 300 thousand to 350 thousand registered Republicans just here in Broward County [Florida]. So is that a true indicator in Iowa? You have a very small sample out there that is not reflective of the diversity of America.”
On Texas Gov. Rick Perry, West says: “I don’t know if Governor Perry is going to be able to recover from the initial stumbles he had out of the starting gate with those debate appearances. I think he was disappointed with the showing he had in Iowa, especially with the investment he put in there.”
As for Texas Rep. Ron Paul, “When you talk about fiscal responsibility of the federal government, that perks people up. But when you transition from fiscal matters to national security and foreign policies, he really loses people.
“I think every [GOP presidential candidate] we have on the table can win the nomination other than Congressman Ron Paul.
“You’ve got to be able to draw a clear contrast between who you are, what you represent — conservative constitutional principles — and that which President Barack Obama represents: Big government, economic equality, wealth redistribution. You’ve got to show that America’s not about class, it’s about equal opportunity and not equal achievement.
“I think each one of our candidates can do that, but they have to understand it’s going to be a brutal bloodbath because this is such an important election cycle.”
Asked whether he favors one of the GOP candidates, West responds: “No, I sit back. My most important focus is to be a good representative here in District 22. We have a lot of things we need to square away in Congress. We’re going to start this kabuki dance all over again about the payroll tax [cut] extension because for whatever silly and insidious reason the Senate only wanted to extend it for two months, and Speaker Boehner decided to go along with it.
“There are a lot of issues facing us. I’m concerned with our economic situation. I’m happy that the unemployment situation has come down to 8.6, 8.5 percent, but I’m concerned whether or not that’s a seasonal bump. We need to sustain that because you have three or four million jobs that were completely lost and you have a large contingent of Americans that are under-employed.”