Former Congressman and retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West will be heading to the Show Me State in two weeks, where he’ll be the keynote speaker at the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association’s ‘Straight Talk’ event. The Missouri Times caught up with the former Republican representative of Florida’s 22nd Congressional District to discuss his views on several topics affecting Missourians, and some of the steps he thinks need to be addressed to continue moving the Show-Me State forward.
What November’s elections said about America
WEST: I believe that if there’s anything that the American people said in November is that they just don’t want this whole fundamental transformation. It may sound nice to the people in New York and California, but not the folks in Missouri.
Think about this: Barack Obama once said back in Roanoke, Virginia, in 2012, that if you own a business, you didn’t build that. That was one belief system. The belief system for Donald Trump is that America is open for business, and we’re going to do what is necessary to get Americans back to work so they can have a quality way of life. And that’s a huge shift. Instead of having the growth of a welfare nanny-state, a dependency society, Donald Trump is looking at how he can economically empower Americans and get them back to work so that they can pursue their happiness, while oppose what Barack Obama and the progressive socialist left believe. That’s a huge ideological shift for this country.
On Missouri’s new governor
WEST: I remember I had a nice little PT run with your new governor, who is a former U.S. Navy Seal. That was my first time meeting him, and we shared a nice five-mile run around the Capitol. That’s a pretty squared-away guy. Those are the type of people we need in charge, people who have been out there and done things – especially our veterans who have been willing to lay down their lives for this country. They understand what it means to take an oath to the Constitution. I was glad to see him elected as governor.
On federal regulations
WEST: The thing is this – I was a member of Congress for the state of Florida, and as you know, Florida is the 13th largest cattle-producing state and the largest east of the Mississippi, so many of the issues that the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association face, we’ve seen with the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.
One of the things is, of course, the tax and regulatory environment that needs to be lifted, because we’re talking about an industry. These industries need to be able to grow and do what is necessary for them to thrive and make a profit. Also, many of these cattlemen, you have to look at them as small business owners. And a lot of the owners’ regulations that are being pushed down upon them are a lot of the things from the Department of Labor, or the EPA, like the water regulation, which basically made any standing body of water fall under government regulation. So, we have to have smart regulations and work with our industries to make sure we’re not constraining and restricting them, but providing them plenty of latitude.
On property rights and the death tax
WEST: I think one of the big things that President Donald Trump just announced, and it’s something we used to rail against, is the death tax. When you look at these cattlemen associations, these are generations upon generations upon generations that they’re passing down. Thank God Hillary Clinton was not elected president, because she wanted to take the threshold amount from $5 million down to $1 million.
Again, it’s just that sense of tax and regulatory environment that we need to lift off of them so that they can be able to thrive in this environment. And we must respect the private property rights of these cattlemen, and really all Americans.
On EPA overreach
West says the EPA has become a bureaucratic administrative weapon, which is being used against the American people.
WEST: We all want to protect the environment. I want clean air. But when you start to see an agency making regulations based upon an ideological agenda and nothing more, and they are imposing financial burdens upon business owners. They’ve gone beyond their scope of what they should be doing, and I think that someone like Scott Pruitt will come in and get them back into what they should be doing.
Really, when you think about the EPA and certain other administrative organizations are doing, that’s taxation without representation. You have government agencies that are able to inflict financial burdens upon people that they don’t know. Look at how the federal registry has grown with all of the rules and regulations that are out there. That is not what is supposed to happen. Scott Pruitt will be the person who will get the EPA back to doing what it is supposed to do, and not just being an agent of the ideological agenda called climate change.
WEST: We want people to be able to go out there and work, we don’t want to have union influence upon them in a negative manner. We don’t want them to feel that they have to be coerced into being part of a union organization.
One of the interesting things is the union leaders who were up there with President Trump, and they were singing his praises. They want to see Americans get back to work, because they’d like to have people on those union rolls, but we need to make sure the unions are doing what is necessary for the American people and the American workers, not an ideological agenda.
On Ferguson and racial tension
WEST: One of the key things you look at with Missouri is Ferguson. It was indicative of a greater issue, especially with our inner cities and urban environments, as we see also reflected in Chicago. We’ve got to restore and rebuild the two-parent family household in the inner city. We’ve got to have small business growth and entrepreneurship and the policies that will enable that to happen. We need to make sure that we have quality education and choices for parents; they should not relegated to sending their kids to failing schools. And we have to do something, as Donald Trump talks about restoring law order, we have to defeat the criminality and the horrific – as he said, American carnage, and it actually is, when you consider the fact that Chicago had 755 murders last year. Iraq, Afghanistan, forget it. Chicago is a combat zone, so we need to do the things to fix that.
I believe that if we can go into our inner cities and make a difference there… rural America, their values are American values. Somehow, we have to get those rural American values to once again be represented in our inner cities; hard work, indomitable entrepreneurial spirit, faith, family, quality education, individual responsibility, and service to something that is greater than yourself.
What West wants to see in the future
WEST: There are two things that are important. The first is economic growth. What we have seen in these past eight years is the worst economic recovery, post-World War II, a president’s administration that never hit three percent GDP growth, the incredible doubling of our debt, and rising deficits, so we have got to have economic growth in the United States, and address the tax policies, regulatory policies, and monetary policies that get that back in line.
The second thing is we have to secure America. That means our domestic security as well as our national security. I think we just saw that in some of the orders the president signed. I think we’re going to see a rebuilding of our military capability, and as we all know, Whiteman Air Base is a pretty important base for our defense and our security.
You can catch West’s speech at the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association ‘Straight Talk’ event on February 15th at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. For more information, visit http://www.mocattle.org/pacregistration.aspx.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.