Washington Times: Five Questions with Gary Johnson.

DECKER: Five questions with Gary Johnson
Americans dissatisfied with major parties are ready to vote Libertarian
By Brett M. Decker - Washington Times - Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gov. Gary Johnson is a candidate for the Libertarian Party's presidential
nomination. During two terms as New Mexico's governor from 1995-2003, he
vetoed over 750 bills (more than the rest of the nation's governors
combined) and left government service with his state being one of only four
with a balanced budget. A lifelong businessman, Mr. Johnson founded and
built a construction company that employed more than 1,000 workers. You can
find out more about his campaign at: garyjohnson2012.com.

Decker: What would entitlement reform look like in a Johnson administration?

Johnson: Entitlement reform in a Johnson administration would begin with the
fundamental notion that virtually all "entitlement" programs can and should
be turned back to the states in the form of block grants, with the federal
expenditure reduced sufficiently to achieve a balanced budget. Whether it be
nutrition assistance, Medicaid and Medicare, or any other delivery of basic
services, the states can set policies, determine priorities and manage those
programs more efficiently and more economically than the federal government.
Fifty laboratories of innovation would be freed to innovate and respond to
the needs of their constituents.

To the extent that political or practical realities make block grants to the
states unworkable, we must then look at programs, such as Social Security,
with an eye toward making the necessary adjustments to meet commitments
while ensuring that outlays do not exceed revenues. The alternative is
bankruptcy and a financial crisis that will do more harm to all Americans
than the common-sense reforms we can and must implement.

Decker: What are the most important steps a new president should take
immediately to get America back on the right track?

Johnson: Based on the premise that deficit spending, the debt and the
resulting harm to the economy represent the greatest threat to not only our
domestic well-being but our national security, the most important step a new
president must take is to submit to Congress a balanced budget in 2013,
accompanied by a firm pledge to veto any spending legislation which exceeds
that budget. Whether Congress adopts that balanced budget, the resulting
dynamic and vetoes of legislation that generate deficit spending will create
the downward pressure on both spending and the size of government that is
needed to free the private economy and allow it to create jobs.

Similarly, as I learned as governor, the chief executive can have an
immediate impact on the regulatory practices of government. Employers,
investors and yes, families, are demanding regulatory certainty - for good
reason. Establishing an environment in which there is confidence that
regulatory approaches will focus on common sense and certainty will go a
long way toward igniting the economic activity we so desperately need.

I also advocate replacing our entire federal tax system with a Fair Tax. The
current system does all the wrong things: It penalizes earning and
investment, and allows politicians far too many opportunities to meddle in
the private economy by picking winners and losers. Enacting a tax based on
consumption and free-market choices such as the Fair Tax, will reboot the
economy quickly and effectively.

Decker: As commander in chief, what (if anything) would you do about Iran's
program to develop nuclear weapons?

Johnson: When it comes to defense and foreign policy, I frequently refer to
the importance of strategic alliances. Iran and the threat it poses is a
perfect example. We must move quickly and firmly to make certain that our
strategic alliance with Israel is on an absolutely solid footing. In
addition, we must obviously be vigilant and prepared when it comes to Iran,
but not act precipitously. Too often, our actions on the international stage
bring about unintended consequences, such as removing Iraq as Iran's primary
concern. That consequence allowed Iran the freedom to turn its belligerence
toward more ambitious targets.

Decker: America would be a lot better off if Washington adopted more
libertarian positions, especially those that advocate cutting red tape,
slashing taxes and getting Big Brother off our backs. In a very tangible
way, however, many Americans have gotten hooked on federal largesse and
aren't willing to give up their government goodies. How can you make the
message of smaller government resonate in this growing climate of
dependency, and who is your main audience?

Johnson: I believe most observers would agree that, of all governors in
modern history, I governed from a more libertarian foundation than any
other. When I ran for governor and when I took office, many claimed the sky
would fall. It didn't, and I was re-elected and even today enjoy the highest
approval ratings in my home state of all the governors in the presidential
race. And New Mexico is a Democratic state. That tells me that people
actually get it. They understand that government "largesse" is not largesse
at all; rather, big government and the "benefits" it provides come at a
price that is simply too great. They also understand that by limiting the
federal government to that which it really needs to do, we will free the
states to deliver essential services in innovative and efficient ways. And
we will free the private economy to create real jobs and restore opportunity
as an American trademark. Government would not disappear in a Johnson
administration. It would live within its means and do what the Constitution
says it should do. No more, and no less.

As I convey this message, I find that Americans of all ages, incomes and
demographics respond. Young people, in particular, are embracing a
libertarian approach to government. They want to be left alone to live their
lives, chase their dreams and do so without government imposing values and
burdens that limit their freedoms. I am convinced that there is a majority
of voters in America today who are classical liberals - committed to the
ideal oflimited government, constitutionalism,rule of law,due process and
individual liberty.

Never before has that majority been more poised to organize and exert itself
in a political environment that has for too long been controlled by the two
"major" parties.

Decker: Conventional wisdom is that a third-party challenger cannot be
elected president of the United States. Certainly, a Libertarian candidacy
siphons votes away from the GOP. Is that the point - to send a message of
protest that Republicans need to be more principled, especially on fiscal

Johnson: Conventional wisdom has never been a guiding principle in my life
or career. Conventional wisdom held that a businessman who had never been in
elected office could not run and win as a Libertarian-Republican in New
Mexico. And conventional wisdom would argue against a former governor with a
not-yet-healed broken leg making it to the summit of Mt. Everest. My
candidacy is not about a message of protest. It is about defying
conventional wisdom and giving voice to what I believe is a majority of
Americans who today do not feel comfortable in either the Democratic or
Republican Party.

Likewise, I do not accept the premise that my candidacy siphons more votes
from Republicans than from Democrats. As I hold online town halls, travel
the country and read the emails and messages coming into our campaign every
day, it is obvious that we are connecting with at least as many Obama voters
as McCain voters from 2008. A lot of people who thought they were voting for
change in 2008 are today very disappointed that what they achieved was only
a slightly different version of the same business-as-usual they wanted to
reject. The desire for a truly new approach cuts across all parties and
independents alike.

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