Deutch raps West’s communist remark, West decries ‘cheap shot’ at Forum Clubby George Bennett | April 30th, 2012
With a crowd of about 700 on hand at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, Deutch gave a 10-minute defense of the Affordable Care Act and West offered a 10-minute criticism.
In an audience question-and-answer period afterward, the congressmen were asked about bipartisanship in Washington.
West said that he took an oath in the Army and as a congressman to protect and defend the constitution, not a political party. He said voters should demand their elected officials represent constituents rather than partisan interests.
“While I have great respect for my colleague’s service to his country, I would respectfully suggest that it is awfully hard to engage in meaningful bipartisan discussion when some suggest that half my party belong to the Communist Party, that the way we do things is reminiscent of the Nazis,” Deutch said.
“That’s a little bit of a cheap shot,” said West, who was standing near Deutch but away from the microphone.
It was the latest fallout from an April 10 campaign event in Jensen Beach in which West was asked what percentage of legislators are “card-carrying” Marxists or Socialists.
“I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party,” West replied. After a long pause, he added, “No, they actually don’t hide it. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”
The Congressional Progressive Caucus includes 75 liberal Democrats in the House as well as independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who caucuses with Democrats.
Deutch’s mention of Nazis refers to a December statement by West that Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels would be “very proud of the Democrat Party” for its messaging.
West didn’t back down from his communist remark when another audience member asked specifically about it.
“There is very little difference between names, if you want to call it that,” West said in response to the written query. “At the turn of the century, the communists in the United States of America rebranded themselves to say progressives. Woodrow Wilson‘s administration was referred to as a progressive administration, and look at some of the things that came out of that administration.
“I would like to have a serious debate with members who say they are part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who voted against having a balanced budget amendment and yet they voted, or they brought up legislation, HJ Resolution 34, that said they wanted to have a constitutional amendment that redistributed wealth in the United States of America. I don’t think that’s in keeping with the founding fathers or the principles and values of this country.”
HJ Resolution 34, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., and cosponsored by many Congressional Progressive Caucus members, would amend the constitution to say Congress “shall tax all persons progressively in proportion to the income which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the United States.”
The U.S. has a progressive income tax system now, with rates starting at 10 percent and reaching 35 percent on the highest incomes. The 16th Amendment to the constitution, ratified in 1913, authorizes a federal income tax but does not specify that it be progressive.