Allen West Says 'Nanny State' Weakens America
In West Palm Beach, congressman says protesters 'don't understand' how jobs are created
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Warning of a "bureaucratic nanny state," U.S. Rep. Allen West said Friday that America's entrepreneurial spirit is at risk of being crushed by the spending machine in Washington, D.C.
Receiving standing ovations at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, the first-term congressman decried the dysfunction on Capitol Hill and the crumbling condition of the U.S. economy.
"There's an incredible ideological chasm in this country that transcends political parties," said West, R-Plantation.
Referring to a gaggle of protesters outside the Palm Beach County Convention Center, West said, "The people outside don't understand -- government does not create jobs."
West, who received strong tea party backing in last year's election, said he sees the economy deteriorating under unprecedented government spending.
"Federal spending is now 24 percent of GDP and 41 cents of every dollar is borrowed," he noted. "Meantime, ships come to our ports loaded and go back to China empty."
The congressman, who apologized for Congress's failure to pass a budget in 800-plus days, has taken heat for supporting the debt-deficit bill that many conservatives said didn't go far enough.
But while he dislikes the "supercommittee" component of the measure, West praised the requirement for a balanced-budget vote and said compromise was needed to "move the ball down the field a little bit."
And striking a populist pose, West noted that "corporate profits are up -- not at home, but off our shores."
The retired Army lieutenant colonel also acknowledged that defense outlays could be cut, and supported legislation that will trim military spending by $319 billion over 10 years.
But he cautioned that even abolishing the entire Defense Department would still leave a $1 trillion deficit, and he expressed concern about cuts that endanger the nation's defense.
"When we're using defense cuts to pay for midnight basketball, we're hollowing out our military."
Then taking a half-joking jab at a rival service, the Army veteran added, "Our Navy has more admirals than ships."
Ultimately, the congressman said Washington needs to step back and refocus on core, constitutional principles, and get out of business's way.
"We see a bureaucratic nanny state handing out free cell phones to people," he said. "We have a Congress that can't even make a decision about a $3 million cut at the national botanical gardens."
"We have to trust the free-market system. This isn't Little League where everyone gets a trophy, [but] if we do not start trusting our entrepreneurial spirit, we will find ourselves a diminished nation."
Contact Kenric Ward at email@example.com or at (772) 801-5341.