allen_west_2011_web.jpgThe following is excerpted from a message issued by state Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., as he headed back to Washington after the recent Thanksgiving holiday. During my time in the military, I was mentored by men and women who carried an honored title, “Leader.” They taught me that leadership has five components: courage, competence, conviction, commitment and character.

Washington, D.C., has a budget deficit but the leadership deficit is even more disconcerting. Leaders take responsibility and rarely take credit, a simple lesson that was taught to me as a young Captain in the U.S. Army by a superb battalion commander. So, as I draw closer to ending my first year as a member of Congress, I want to briefly discuss failures in leadership, as a strong American leader would not take the misfortunes facing the American people and leverage it for “political gain.”

Here are the facts for America since January 2009:

• More than two million Americans are unemployed, close to 26 million are underemployed, with national unemployment at or above nine percent for 28 straight months and double that in the black community.

• Average gas prices have gone from $1.83 to $3.45.

• The federal debt has gone from $10.6 trillion to over $15 trillion, with three straight years of trillion-

dollar-plus deficits and the debt per person has gone from $34,000 to over $48,000.

• Food stamp recipients are up by 41

percent, with 16 percent more Americans in poverty, at 6.4

million, the Misery Index is up

65 percent and nearly 48.5 percent of Americans are on government aid.

• Home values are down 11 percent and health insurance premiums are up 23 percent, from $3,354 to over $4,000.

• U.S. global competitiveness is down from first to fifth in the world.

Yet, with these abysmal statistics, all we hear from the big megaphone of the White House is we need to tax people, particularly certain people, more. We hear about extending payroll tax holidays, which is nothing but a Band-Aid approach only providing a very short-term impetus.

What no one is telling the American people, especially seniors, is that the constant use of payroll tax breaks continues to erode the funding of Social Security – which is already running a deficit. When combined with the unemployment situation, we are speeding up the demise of Social Security in America.

If the solution is to extend unemployment benefits, then we are creating a situation where we must continue to borrow more money to fund initiatives, which will promote and exacerbate the destructive economic indicators.

We currently borrow 42 cents on every dollar — a dollar which, soon, thanks to the insidious monetary policies emanating from the Federal Reserve, may not be the default currency of the world.

This is not leadership. It is policy by election cycle sound-bite where the purpose is just to get reelected.  Politicians are now preying on the uninformed electorate and are not developing visionary pro-growth economic policies for America. The obvious goal is to create more victims in America, an America of dependency, not individual independence.

I have never previously held elected office and, four years ago, was returning from a two-and-a-half-year assignment as a civilian-military advisor to the Afghan army. I do not see myself as a politician. I seek to be a political leader and, thus hope to be an American statesman.

Therefore, I will not be supporting, if I get a straight up and down vote, any of these manipulative deceptive political gimmicks, such as extension of payroll taxes and unemployment benefits. I will be supporting stabilizing or lowering tax rates in America and prefer to flatten them, eliminate loopholes and reduce subsidies and deductions.

Photo: Allen West