OTR Interviews

Allen West: Obama acting like 'bystander' president when his policies are hurting the black community

Has the president made problems plaguing black families enough of a priority during his administration?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 4, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Should President Obama be doing more to lead African- American families out of poverty? Here is more from the president and Bill O'Reilly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O'REILLY, 'O'REILLY FACTOR' HOST: 72 percent of babies in African-American communities are born out of wedlock now. Why isn't there a campaign by you and the first lady to address that problem very explicitly?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Actually, Bill, we address it explicitly all the time. I will send you at least 10 speeches I have made since I have been president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: But are speeches enough? Former Congressman Alan West joins us. Nice to see you, sir.

ALLEN WEST, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER FLA. CONGRESSMAN: Absolutely. Great to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Very tough problem is the whole problem of --

WEST: Sure.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there anything that you expect the president to do?

WEST: Well, I mean I think he should give it some attention. You can't talk about it and think it's going to go away.

But let's go back and look at the history of President Obama. In April of 2009, he cancelled the D.C. school voucher program, right here, for deserving black children but yet his children go to Sidwell Friends. Those actions speak about what he feels about the black community.

Understand this. You still have a black community, 85 percent, to 87 percent to support the president, so he has got them in the bag. Why should he do anything?

But you have got to go back and remember it was President Johnson's policy of granting a check to young girls having children out of wedlock, and they continued to get the check as long as they didn't have any man that came into the house. So it was the policies of Lyndon Johnson that created this. So we do need someone to come in and say we have got to turn it around in the black community and we have got to do something to restore the family, which can help to restore the community as a whole.

VAN SUSTEREN: So how do you do that?

WEST: I think you have to, first of all, go into the community and you have to talk about responsibility of young men in the families. And you have to really start to stress education. When you look at the education statistics, it's horrific in the black community. Another thing we are not talking about is the teenage unemployment rate. So, you know, that's almost 40 percent in these inner-city black communities. So there are a multitude, a plethora of factors -- unemployment, the breakdown of the family, the lack of education. All of that comes together.

And really what you are creating in the inner city -- and I know people are going to go apoplectic when I say this -- but it's an economic dependency plantation created in the inner cities. I see it when I go back to my old neighborhood in the inner city of Atlanta, Georgia. The neighborhood that used to be on Auburn Avenue, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr is buried, Ebenezer Baptist Church, is not the same street, not the same Auburn Avenue that I grew up in.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think it takes a much bigger movement. I don't think that President Obama can do it alone. I know Coach Dungy has been canceling young men coming in sports. He was here last night. I mean it really does take a huge number of people --

WEST: It does. But --

VAN SUSTEREN: -- to do this because these are horrible statistics.

WEST: But he is a start point. He is a start point.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is he a start point, I agree, because is he president.

WEST: He is president, and he is supposedly this role model and he has to do more than speeches. He has to make a determined effort. It is about his policies. I think that what you saw in the State of the Union address, what you saw in his interview with Bill O'Reilly, he just is a bystander to everything. He keeps talking about the economy and this and that. He is the cause of this. This is his economy. These are his policies. He needs to take ownership.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess I always go back to the question, what do you do? I guess to the extent I guess if you are president then your policies are such that they are not advancing unemployment in certain areas.

WEST: You know, Booker T. Washington had a three-prong approach. He said education, entrepreneurship, self-reliance. And that is how you create strong families or strong community. That's the three-prong approach we need to get back to.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's a terrible nagging problem for the nation, for the people going through it themselves.

Congressman, nice to see you, sir.

WEST: Pleasure. Thank you, Greta.