U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-District 22) was at the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center on Monday to kick off his re-election campaign and introduce himself to voters in a newly redrawn district.
West announced earlier this year that he would seek election to the seat originally expected to be Congressman Tom Rooney’s new seat, in the proposed District 18, which covers all of Martin and St. Lucie counties, as well as large portions of northern Palm Beach County.
Rooney plans to run in the newly created District 17, which covers large parts of rural western and central Florida. West’s current district, which runs from central Palm Beach County south into Broward County, has been redrawn into a seat expected to favor a Democrat.
A retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, West sat down to speak informally with about 30 people at the RPB Cultural Center. He noted that some of the best communication sessions he had with his troops were sit-down sessions talking about their concerns.
“That’s what leadership and being a commander is about,” West said, explaining that with a newly drawn district, it’s important for him to get out and introduce himself. “I’m happy to be here because we need to get out and start meeting people and talking to folks. Most people don’t know who I am. We have to introduce, maybe reintroduce, but just solidify who we are and what we believe in.”
West said the United States has the highest corporate business tax rate in the world at 39.2 percent, which with local taxes comes out to 43 percent to 46 percent.
“We want to get back to producing and manufacturing and growing and expanding this economy; that’s not how we’re going to turn it around,” he said, explaining that he had just come from a luncheon with a group of small business owners. “All we have to do is look throughout this community, all through South Florida. We still have a double-digit unemployment rate here in South Florida. It’s higher than the state. It’s higher than the national unemployment rate.”
West said he has seen all the empty local storefronts. “Who used to be there? Americans who had an idea, entrepreneurs who had a vision,” he said. “That’s all over this country… and the more you raise income tax, those storefronts are not going to get open.”
West added that the regulatory environment and policies of the federal government are the antithesis to small businesses being able to grow. “That’s some of the problems that we see that need changing,” he said.
As an example, he said Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, who testified before the House Energy & Commerce Committee last year, was asked whether she took into consideration the economic impact and ramifications of the regulations her department was producing, and she said no.
“You think about the farmers out here in western Palm Beach County, the EPA came down with this numeric content criteria. They said that farmers had to reduce runoff water parts per billion purer than rainwater,” he said. “I know some of the municipalities got hit with that also.”
West said people have asked EPA representatives how they came up with the formula, and they don’t have an answer. “These are the things that are happening out there that are absolutely driving people crazy,” he said. “That’s the uncertainty that we have here in this environment.”
Regarding healthcare, West said there is no denying there is a healthcare problem in the United States, but that creating 159 new agencies is not the way to go about fixing it. He said the new healthcare plan would add 16,000 new IRS agents, 11 new taxes, cut Medicare by $575 billion and have 15 unelected bureaucrats make decisions about Medicare price controls. “If we allow that to happen, you’re going to see some of the biggest tax increases you have ever seen in the history of the United States of America,” he said.
West asserted that the federal government is top-heavy, pointing out the number of construction cranes in Washington, D.C. “They’re building in Washington, D.C., but we’re not building down here,” he said. “The construction industry has absolutely been devastated. The capital of the American citizen is not being invested locally. It’s being kidnapped up in Washington and being wastefully spent.”
West said he is also increasingly frustrated with the growing deficit and Congress’s inability to approve a budget. “Today represents day 1,071 that the U.S. Senate hasn’t passed a budget,” he said. “There’s only one thing constitutionally that you’re supposed to do up there in Washington, D.C., and that’s pass the budget.”
West, well known as a conservative lightening rod, said there are some people who don’t like him because he stands on principle and tells the truth.
“I have two teenage daughters, and I have a promise that I’m going to leave them something better than what my parents and grandparents left for me, and that’s a challenge for each and every one of us,” he said.
To learn more about West, visit www.allenwestforcongress.com.