America cannot survive as a nation if it continues making more people dependent on government checks, Rep. Allen West told a cheering crowd Saturday in closing out the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference. The CPAC keynote speaker said America must secure the borders, protect the unborn, stand for traditional marriage and stand with Israel.
"We cannot continue in an America where we are making more and more people wedded to government either by subsistence check or by employment check – where we are creating more victims and making people more dependent upon government,” said West, R-Fla. “That has to end, and the hard decisions come right now."
The Environmental Protection Agency budget must be slashed and Congress must "start looking at every government program and agency created in the past 10 years” in order to make the necessary budget cuts, West said. He called for restraints on a government that produces such programs as an Obama administration proposal to give consumers a $7,500 tax credit for buying an electric car.
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This year’s conference, which drew 11,000 attendees and more than 500 journalists to Washington, D.C., saw a host of presidential hopefuls parade through the event. Those in attendance included Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and real estate mogul Donald Trump. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin passed on the event, as did former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
All those in attendance leveled their sights on President Barack Obama and his policies, including his signature healthcare plan, his handling of America's economic crisis, government spending and foreign policy. Trump, who was a surprise speaker at CPAC, told the crowd that “the U.S. is becoming the laughingstock of the world. Other countries are screwing us.”
Yet not all was roses for Trump, who drew boos when he told the told the generally adoring audience that Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, “can't get elected, I'm sorry … I like Ron Paul. I think he is a good guy, but honestly, he just has zero chance of getting elected.”
Nonetheless, Paul won the CPAC straw poll for the second consecutive year, grabbing 30 percent of the 3,742 votes cast. Romney had 23 percent, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie each garnered 6 percent, followed by Gingrich with 5 percent. Pawlenty, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Daniels each had 4 percent, while Palin garnered 3 percent.
Before taking the stage, West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, told Newsmax.TV that the upheaval in Egypt was a “wave event that is happening, so we really don’t have our arms around it completely” and “we truly don’t know” what may happen next.
“One of the things you have to look at, that unlike in Western civilization and unlike even in the United States of America, especially, there is no Washington, there is no Jefferson, there are no Lincolns, Reagans, Kennedys, who immediately step in,” he said. “The fact that [former Egyptian President] Mubarak has left, there is no political opposition that can stand up. And the most organized political opposition is the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Government has to become efficient and effective, even if it takes cutting the defense budget, West said. “I can guarantee that I could go over to the Pentagon and I could probably find a whole lot of fraud, waste and abuse in that building.”
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