One of the central themes of Rep. Allen West’s (R-FL) campaign this past fall was opposition to the public sector, promotion of “free market, free enterprise solutions,” and criticism of government efforts to stimulate the economy through direct spending. In a TV spot during the campaign, West said that it was “time for incumbent Ron Klein to admit his ideas just don’t work. The stimulus failed to produce jobs.” Watch it:
Yet in an interview with Ed Pozzuoli, President of Tripp Scott Attorneys at Law, this week, West unwittingly credits government-run industries that were major stimulus recipients with helping to “turn around” his district’s economy. When asked about the best way to fix the economy, West explains that he just talked to the director of the Ft. Lauderdale Airport, which he praises for all the jobs it is going to create by building a new runway and bringing in new revenues. He also went on to laud the “world’s largest cruise port.”
Referencing these two local projects, he said, “Now we’re talkin’ about how we’re going to turn around South Florida!”:
WEST: Just had a great opportunity sitting over and talking to the Ft. Lauderdale Airport director. They’re going to bring in that new southern runway. You think about the jobs that will create. You think about the increased revenues. I mean, $2.7 billion a year. That’s what that airport brings in. And when you bring it in together with the world’s largest cruise port? Now we’re talkin’ about how we’re going to turn around South Florida!
The interesting thing about West’s praise for the Ft. Lauderdale Airport and the neighboring Port Everglades seaport is that both of them actually are run by the government. The airport “is a service of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners” — which also happens to run the Port Everglades seaport.
Additionally, both government-run institutions are also major recipients of federal stimulus dollars. The airport received $5.6 million dollars through the Recovery Act, which helped renovate the area around several concourses. “This was needed and I don’t know how soon it would have gotten done because of the runway and other necessary work,” said Aviation Director Kent George. And Port Everglades received $190,000 as part of a Department of Homeland Security grant included in the Recovery Act.
There is certainly nothing wrong with West endorsing these stimulus-funded government projects and praising their ability to turn around South Florida and the country’s economy. He should just recognize that these projects owe a great deal of their success to the public sector and that not all problems are solved by the invisible hand of the free market.