Read the full Allen West interview here.
New Times: Let's talk about the Ryan budget [introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin)], which you supported in the House. [This proposal was passed by the House and at presstime was awaiting a vote in the Senate, although House leaders were already backpedaling their support.] From what I understand from the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Ryan plan, people who are now in their late 40s/early 50s -- they've worked their whole lives; they've paid into Medicare -- they're going to have to pay about $6,000 more under this voucher plan than they would now.
Allen West: And there's also some studies saying that when you start to introduce competition, then you can bring those prices down, and I think that's one of the critical things that you have to have. We're talking about the patient being able to have people compete for their business. We're talking about going from a very inefficient, fee-for-service program to a defined contribution program.
But this gets rid of Medicare.
It does not get rid of Medicare. It reforms Medicare.
Ryan's proposal gives patients a voucher that would cover about 40 percent of their cost for a private health plan.
It reforms Medicare, and you know exactly what I'm saying. But why are you challenging me on this when you know that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act really does cap Medicare as it is? And so that will force into a rationing of that program for our seniors right now.
Despite those cuts to the Medicare program, the Ryan plan sustains the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, versus Obama's plan --
I want you all to stop talking about tax cuts for the wealthy ... Small-business owners operate as S corporations at personal income tax rates... So at a time when we're trying to get more Americans hired, you're basically saying you're going to raise taxes on small-business owners, which is not going to enable them to grow their businesses. And these top brackets pay 40 percent of taxes in the United States of America, so when is it enough?
The Bush-era tax cuts, which you have supported and which would be continued under the Ryan plan -- they are for wealthy Americans; they're not just for small businesses.
They're for people that produce. And $250,000 -- I mean, I don't know why we have people arbitrarily deciding who is rich or who is poor. That's a very socialist perspective.
Do you make $250,000 a year?
I'm sure when you put me together with my wife. But then, I also have two daughters, one of them about to go into college. So I don't know if people take those things into consideration.
Can we talk about Libya for a minute?
Why are we in Libya?
You've said a couple of different things about Libya. At the end of February, you said, "We don't need to rush to judgment; U.S. troops don't need to be involved." Then you had a press release on March 22 that said, "The time to take military action should have been two weeks ago."
If you're gonna take military action, you should've taken it early on. I still don't agree with it; I wouldn't have done it. But it was after the fact.
So you wouldn't go there at all.
I would not have gone there at all. What I was saying is that now that we have committed the military forces, we should've done that at the onset, instead of waiting the two or some-odd weeks. But I was not for going into Libya whatsoever.
What's the mission? Who are the rebels? What's their leadership? Who fills the void afterward? I mean, there are so many questions that are unanswered... So it's just a Bay of Pigs venture waiting to happen.
So you don't think dethroning [Libyan leader Muammar] Qaddafi is enough of a mission?
I think containing Qaddafi could've been a better perspective. But deposing him? No. Why not depose [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad? Why not go in and do something in Iran 18 to 19 months prior?
Do you support going into Iran?
I support all options against Iran. And I think that there comes a time when talking runs out of being a viable option, 'cause in that part of the world, sometimes the only thing they understand is strength.
Tomorrow on the Pulp, West discusses Israel, Glenn Beck, and gays in the military.
8. Currently, Medicare is a government-run program that pays doctors and hospitals directly for services, while patients also pay some premiums. Under Ryan's plan, patients would buy private insurance and Medicare would subsidize some of the cost with a voucher paid directly to insurance companies.
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An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office predicts that in ten years, when the Ryan plan would take effect, patients would have to cover a much larger portion of their health-care costs than they would if Medicare did not change. They would pay $6,000 more in premiums (for a total of about $12,500) and would be responsible for 61 percent of their total health-care cost, as opposed to paying just 27 percent of the cost if the Medicare program did not change.
9. West is referring to President Obama's health-care reform bill, passed by Congress last year. The law requires a national advisory board to identify $15.5 billion in Medicare savings, but the board "is prohibited from proposing anything that would ration care or reduce or modify benefits,"according to PolitiFact.com.
10. During the administration of President George W. Bush, Congress lowered tax rates for many Americans twice, in 2001 and 2003. The cuts were set to expire in 2010, but Congress extended them until 2012. President Obama has recently proposed ending the tax cuts that apply to individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and couples earning more than $250,000. Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal would continue those tax breaks.
11. As a member of Congress, West earns $174,000 a year. He also collects a pension from the Army; in 2009, that amount was $50,000, according to his campaign financial disclosure documents. His wife, Angela, is a financial planner for Raymond James and earned $58,000 in 2009.