The biggest problem in the sequester standoff: No real leadership in Washington

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 27, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And tonight, former congressman Allen West says President Obama needs your help with the sequester. He tweets, "Call, e-mail, flood the White House with suggestions for cutting 2.4 percent since they're obviously too incompetent to figure it out."

Congressman West joins us. Good evening, sir.

ALLEN WEST, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Good evening, Greta. How are you doing?

VAN SUSTEREN: Very well. So you think your call to arms will have any impact? You going to get the people emailing and calling the White House? And if so, are they going to listen?

WEST: I think they will listen because, obviously, we don't have any leadership coming out of Washington, D.C. Let's be very honest, Greta. I don't know if you still have it sitting there, but that GAO report that talked about $200 to billion to $300 billion of wasteful, redundant programs in Washington, D.C.. So that's a great place to start.

$85 billion dollars is not going to effectively shut down the United States government. We're not going to have to worry about meat inspectors or planes falling from the sky. As a matter of fact, this week, Greta, you had Ben Bernanke that was testifying up there on Capitol Hill, and he talked about because we have such a lackluster recovery, we're going to have to continue on with federal stimulus.

What he really is not telling the American people, that we're printing money to the tune of $85 billion a month so that we can buy up our own mortgage-backed security debt and also Treasury bonds. So again, the numbers are just not adding up, and you're starting to see a level of ridiculousness coming out of Washington, D.C., that really has to cause the American people a lot of concern.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, the other day or the other week, it was announced that the Truman, which is an aircraft carrier, would not be deployed to the Persian Gulf because of money, because of sequestration. Do you buy that that was a legitimate reason? Are they short of cash? Are we short of cash in our defense?

WEST: Absolutely. Because one of the things you have to understand, part of the Budget Control Act was $487 billion of cuts to the Department of Defense over the next 10 years. And that's taking care of the fraud, the waste and abuse, streamlining research and development programs, acquisition programs which without a doubt was needed. As you know, the first time you had me on was because I found wasteful programs in the DOD budget.

Now you're talking about an additional $45 billion to $46 billion per year on the Department of Defense, and now that's going to start what is called the Operation and maintenance budget. And during the Clinton years, when I was a brigade operations officer at Fort Bragg, we felt those cuts down there because you did not have enough money for repair parts for your equipment. You did not have enough money for ammunition so you can go out and properly certify and train your crews. I was an artillery officer.

So these things are really going to be felt in the United States military, which if you understand the preeminent responsibility of the federal government is to provide for the defense so that we can secure the blessings of liberty, liberty for the American people.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I remember you mentioned the first time you appeared. You were a freshman member of Congress. It was about $30 million of waste in the Pentagon's budget. And you had a unanimous vote on it, Democrats and Republicans voted because nobody wanted to see that $30 million wasted.

Why can't we do that with all the other incredible waste in this town?

WEST: Well, you know, it's interesting to say, you would think that a guy that served 22 years in the United States military sitting on the House Armed Services Committee, he would look at the Department of Defense as a sacred cow. Now, I don't see it that way. And I wanted to prove that here's something near and dear to me. I have relatives that are still in the military. But I know that there are places where we could find savings.

So if we had every single member of Congress, being it the House or the Senate, in their committee of jurisdiction go in and do exactly what I did, I don't think that you'd have to worry about the extraordinary amount of...

VAN SUSTEREN: Why doesn't it happen?

WEST: ... overspending that we have.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why doesn't it happen?

WEST: It comes back to leadership.

VAN SUSTEREN: It seems like -- I mean, everybody...

WEST: It comes back to leadership.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... hates waste.

WEST: It comes back to leadership, Greta, and that's the thing that is missing. That's the thing that is lacking, and resolute leadership that will tell the American people that we do have a spending problem. When you have individuals in Washington, D.C., in positions of supposed leadership that won't even admit that you have a spending problem -- that's the first thing. It's kind of like going to Alcoholics Anonymous.

VAN SUSTEREN: But I don't -- I don't even hear a lot of Republicans championing a particular waste. I don't see them going sort of line by line through these budgets, either. I mean, I hear them sort of say we have a lot of waste. But I mean, like, what you did was you actually went, found the $30 million, and everyone is appalled and everyone voted your way. You know, so I mean, there was no one that resisted it.

So I don't get why that isn't being done by other members now with other budgets line by line.

WEST: Well, hopefully, they're looking and they're listening right now. And maybe they'll stay in Washington, D.C., and they'll decide in their committee of jurisdiction to get a piece of the budget.

But first of all, you've got to understand something. It's been 1,400 days since we've even had a budget up in Washington, D.C. So that's the first place where we need to start is the House and the Senate passing a budget that everyone can go through line by line, and making sure that we get rid of that fraud, waste and abuse across all the agencies in Washington, D.C.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you know, I thought it was sort of interesting, Senator Mitch McConnell saying that last month, everyone lost 2 percent in his paycheck because of the increase in pay, when the tax cuts -- or a lot of people did -- and we're asking in the sequestration 2.4 percent cut. It's about the same. And we...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... actually learned to live with it.

WEST: Yes, it's about the same. But really, you know, if you understand the baseline budgeting, it may not even be that 2.4 percent because you're really cutting an increase of the spending that's going to occur.

So we need to go to a zero-based budgeting system. That's one of the first things we have to do. And once again, it comes back to leadership. You know, it is very troubling when I see the president and others that are going out and trying to scare and intimidate the American people. That's not what leadership does.

Leadership recognizes that you have a problem, they come up with viable solutions, and they tell the American people that we're going to get this thing under control so that we can protect the future for our children and grandchildren. That's what's most important.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

WEST: Always a pleasure, Greta. Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see you.