Rep. Allen West has no regrets over calling up to 81 of his fellow members of the House of Representatives “communists” last week.
Responding to a question about his comments, the Florida Republican doubled down on his accusation, saying that instead of calling themselves “communist,” they now call themselves “progressive.”
“No, I don’t regret it whatsoever,” West told reporters at a news conference Tuesday. “I’m not going to back down. I’m not going to be afraid about the fact that I called a spade a spade. That’s my responsibility to the American people.”
Last week West told a crowd of supporters in his home state that he believes “there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party,” which he said now calls itself the Congressional Progressive Caucus. That comment came in response to an audience member asking “what percentage of the American legislature” is “card-carrying Communists?”
“At the turn of the century American communists renamed themselves progressives,” West explained on Tuesday. “There’s a very thin line between communism, progressivism, Marxism, socialism or even as Mark Levin has said statism.”
He cited Democrat’s support for the TARP bank bailout, the auto-industry bailout, Obama’s health care law and mandated contraception coverage under private insurance plans as evidence of trying “expand the welfare state” in a Communist way.
“I don’t know if that’s in keeping in your version of a constitutional republic, but you know when I went through my studies it surely was not,” West said. “So I stand by what I am saying and it was very interesting that people on the left are not debating the point that I made. They just don’t like the fact that it was made.”
The Congressional Progressive Caucus sought to dispel West’s “outrageous” claims last week, issuing a statement equating West with the 1950′s era of Joe McCarthy, who accused government officials of being Communist during the Cold War.
“Calling fellow members of Congress ‘communists’ is reminiscent of the days when Joe McCarthy divided Americans with name-calling and modern-day witch hunts that don’t advance policies to benefit people’s lives,” Congressional Progressive Caucus co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison wrote in the statement.