This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 3, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: OK, I'm going to let new on a little secret. As a lawyer, no matter how strong my case might be, I really can't think of anything worse than being up against an opponent named Little Sisters of the Poor. That is every lawyer's worst nightmare. And now it's President Obama's reality. Little Sisters of the Poor. And the president has 11 states attorneys general breathing down his neck. But at least that's a fair fight.
Former Congressman Allen West joins us. Good evening, sir.
REP. ALLEN WEST, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER FLA. CONGRESSMAN: Good evening and Happy New Year, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Happy New Year to you. I'm going to talk a little later about this lawsuit involving the nuns. Every lawyer's worst nightmare to be up against nuns. But I want to talk about, instead, the 11 attorneys general who have written to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about President Obama overreaching. What do you think?
WEST: Well, they have to be very concerned down at the state level because what they are looking at is a president who once said that people had junk plans. And they were not in concert with the mandates of ObamaCare and the laws that they had established. And those plans had to be cancelled. But then, because of political pressure, I would say, the president comes back and says that those plans now can be re-implemented.
That causes a lot of consternation down to the state level when you look at the state insurance commissioners and those. And the real crux of the matter is, for these 11 attorneys general, they are seeing an executive branch that is really going back and changing law just based upon their own really whims. And you cannot have a separation of powers, co-equal branches of government that way. If there is to be a legislative change to an established law, it has to go back through Congress, and that's really what these attorneys general are making a complaint about.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, we had Attorney General Greg Abbott on from Texas last night. Here is the problem, is that, you know, they all talk a big talk and they all say the president is doing this horrible thing, he is going beyond his political power. Yet, all I see here are these letters that get passed back and forth whether it's from Capitol Hill to HHS secretary or state or now it's the state attorneys general. Are they really going to take any action or not?
WEST: Well, they have to. Because, if they don't take any action, this is going to --
VAN SUSTEREN: How?
WEST: -- establish a very horrible precedent. Well, you know, one of the things that you have to look at is whether or not they can go back and challenge this based upon a very thin possibility of nullification, saying their states, the sovereign states, using the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Constitution, they're not going to follow this and they're not going to go along with people changing law in the executive branch instead of upholding and defending those laws and executing those laws. So this is a real constitutional crisis that we see happening in the United States of America.
VAN SUSTEREN: I have never seen such a slow response for so many that deeply believe the president has exceed his authority, is no longer executing the law but legislating, which is the responsibility of Congress. Whatever. We will see if the state attorneys general go beyond writing a letter.
Let me ask you something else though. When the bipartisanship Budget Act of 2013 was passed -- that happened just before Christmas -- we learned that one of the groups getting partial ax to retirement benefits in that new budget ax are our military vets. Of course, that's distressing to many Americans. But today, House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa, introducing a bill that would end delivery of mail on Saturday instead of cutting benefits for military veterans. Is that the answer and a good one, and is it now the post office, are those postal workers in essence going to take a cut?
WEST: First of all, I think that's a pretty easy way out to say we are going to cancel the service on Saturdays. When you are talking about the military retirees and also the medically retired individuals, that's not a lot of people, but we have made a promise to those individuals. And I just happen to be one of those individuals.
I think that when you look at the wasteful spending up there in Washington, D.C. -- Senator Jeff Sessions brought up an amendment over in the Senate to close tax loopholes for illegal immigrants and Harry Reid refused to do that. You had Senator Tom Coburn on, who articulated his government waste book, $33 million of wasteful spending. And then I think you still have that GAO report from 2011 that has $200 billion --
WEST: -- of redundant and duplicative programs.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm totally with you. In fact, the first I ever knew of you was when you found waste in the Pentagon two months into your first term and you got everybody to sign on with you to collect it or to keep it from being spent. I'm totally with you on that. Senator Tom Coburn -- why is there no appetite to go and get that? Instead, now, there's an appetite to cut the postal workers, get them made about something, taking their money to pay the military. There is plenty of waste and fraud. Where is the appetite to go get it?
WEST: Well, I think it comes back to a lack of leadership up there on Capitol Hill. They are always looking for the low-hanging fruit. As a matter of fact, instead of going after people who have given 20-plus years of their lives and service to this nation, maybe they should look at changing the rules for their own congressional pensions, which kicks in after five to six years of service. And even after the member has passed away, it goes to their spouse. So there is a lot of other tough decisions that they can make and it will require a lot of hard work, instead of like I have just seen Chairman Issa do, go for the low hanging fruit. And I'm sorry, that just is not acceptable to now try to punish the American people, to punish the postal workers, instead of doing the job that you should do, is cut the waste, cut the fraud, cut the abuse of the American taxpayer dollar.
VAN SUSTEREN: And sort of hold your breath waiting for that one to happen.
Let me ask you about something else, which is enormously distressing but maybe not shocking. Piece of news today. An Associated Press poll showing a majority of Americans, 54 percent, believe the U.S. will be on a downward spiral until the year 2050. Your thoughts?
WEST: Well, that comes from one simple thing, and in transition from our last little segment, there is a lack of inspirational, visionary leadership in the United States of America. There is no one that is putting out a positive message about this great nation, talking about the resurgence and the recommitment to our, you know, constitutional Republican values, which is so important. You know, when you look at President Obama, he is someone who has lost credibility. He has lost trust. He has lost confidence. Who would have ever thought that we would have a president of the United States of America that was awarded the Lie of the Year in 2013? So, that's very damaging for him.
But then on the Republican side, as you just brought up, Chairman Issa, looking for the low-hanging fruit instead of coming out and making the hard decisions. So we need to have some committed leaders, not self- interest, not special interest, and that's why a lot of people here in the United States of America are really concerned about what we're going to pass on to our children and grandchildren.
VAN SUSTEREN: You talk about inspiration. And I actually think that's a very powerful weapon and a very important weapon to get the country going, whether economically or just, you know, in terms of our working together. When President Obama ran for office, he used to be able to draw crowds of 90,000. Inspiration was his most powerful tool. He had it within his hands. What happened?
WEST: That was false charisma. That was really someone that was telling people what he thought they wanted to hear and not what they need to hear. That's the difference between a politician and a statesman. A statesman is going to tell you what you need to hear.
Just the same as in the military. If you are going into a combat operation, you are going to inspire those young men and those young women to get out there and fight hard and you're going to train them very hard and you're going to tell them the truth. You're going to make sure that they come back home to their families and what have you. That's what we need. We need someone that says we're not down in this country. When you look at the resurgence of al Qaeda, when you look at our economic situation, the unemployment, when you look at the failures of this Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, because they are nowhere near the numbers that they need, this is where you need leadership to step up, leadership that could convey a true principled message and then have the policies to support that principled message.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Off the top of your head, who right now living politician do you consider a statesman over a politician?
WEST: Very few. And I will tell you that I don't really --
VAN SUSTEREN: Give me a name. Give me at least one name. There has got to be someone.
WEST: No. Greta, I have to be very honest, I mean, I don't see the person -- you know, when I look at a principled leader, I'm talking about someone such as Ronald Reagan when he stood at the Brandenburg Gate and said, "Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall." I'm looking at someone that can sit across the table from our enemies and make them fear and respect who we're and then go out with conviction and tell the American people that our better days are ahead of us and not behind.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir. Always nice to see you.
WEST: Always a pleasure, Greta. Thank you.