Former Republican Congressman Allen West on Friday announced a new foundation dedicated to getting more military veterans elected to Congress.
Speaking Friday to Newsmax TV at CPAC 2013, West said he hopes to raise between $5 million and $6 million over the next two years to support the effort, which he hopes will eliminate the obstacles he faced when he returned from service in Afghanistan.
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“After World War II and Korea, almost 80 percent of the House and Senate were military and they had a different sense of service. Now it’s less than 14 percent and if you include those who have recently served, you get an even smaller number,” West said.
He said the difficult economic situations facing many returning veterans is yet another reason it’s imperative to turn the economy around.
“George Washington said future generations will judge us by how we treat our veterans. We need more job opportunities for veterans,” said the Iraq war veteran who was defeated in November’s election after one term.
West also criticized the reduction in disability benefits that some veterans have experienced as a result of the sequester, saying that billions of dollars can be cut from other programs where the reductions won’t have the same harmful impact.
An even bigger problem, West believes, is the fact that the government has been operating on continuing resolutions rather than thoughtfully planned budgets.
“We’ve gone 1,421 days with no budget. When you don’t have a budget, you don’t have a plan. If we just spend money at current levels, we can’t get the debt and deficit under control,” West said. “Sixty-two percent of the budget is mandatory spending. If we don’t get that under control, all of the revenues that are coming to federal government will go toward mandatory spending, which will lead to trillion-dollar deficits.”
When asked about the rising stars in the Republican Party, many of which are capturing great attention this week, West said individuals such as Sens. Rand Paul, Kelly Ayotte, and Marco Rubio represent the next generation of conservative leadership.
“What’s really happening is like a relay race. We’ve got to have people who understand it’s time to pass the baton on,” West said.
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