Rep. West has been an uncompromising opponent of government spending and an ardent Tea Party activist since arriving in Congress in 2011. Last year he opposed granting the Department of the Treasury increased borrowing authority without deep spending cuts being attached to the legislation. On May 31, 2011 he voted against the free-standing increase in the debt limit requested by President Obama and issued a press release with the following words:
"I voted against increasing a debt ceiling absent of spending control measures… I will not vote for this debt increase unless all of the following criteria are met or included in the final bill that would aim to raise the debt limit: ...A failsafe trigger mechanism must be put in place that would automatically cut spending…"
As I pointed out in a column last week, House John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the White House worked tirelessly for two months after that vote to come up with a compromise that did not include Rep. West’s include automatic across the board cuts. Each time Boehner’s proposed compromise was rejected by the Tea Party faction of the House Republican Conference. Finally with only hours remaining before the nation slipped into default Speaker Boehner brought back the “failsafe trigger” that Rep. West had demanded. The Florida Congressman then reversed his position on the debt ceiling, voted for the package and issued the following statement:
"For the first time in American history tonight, the United States House of Representatives raised the debt ceiling with equal to or exceeding spending cuts…This will assuredly lead to long term sustainable economic growth and American jobs."
But now the deal that Rep. West not only embraced but demanded a year ago is giving him second thoughts. And as he now insists that if there is anyone to blame for the “failsafe trigger mechanism” that is now law it is certainly not Allen West. He spoke on a national radio broadcast Saturday:
"For all the coverage of Election Day, there's another date looming—January the 2nd—that has serious consequences for our nation's security. On that day—if the government does not act—automatic, across-the-board spending cuts will take effect, cuts that would reduce funding for our national defense by as much as 10 percent.
President Obama's failure to lead is inexcusable on its face, but what makes it even more so is the fact that this sequester' was his administration's idea in the first place. Dodging his responsibility is how the sequester came about, so it is no surprise the president is doing the exact same thing now."
Indeed there does seem to be a problem with people not taking responsibility. But one needs to look no further than Rep. West’s own website to find out where the responsibility belongs.
Lilly is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.