Monday, May 21, 2012

Gary Johnson on the Issues

Last Sunday, I wrapped up my series of posts on Mitt Romney's positions in the debates. Now it's time to look at Gary Johnson, who initially ran as a Republican but has now secured the nomination for the Libertarian Party. Since Johnson was only in two debates, the first and the sixth, there's simply not as much material as there was for Romney, who was in 19 debates. While Romney got five entries, Johnson only gets this one.

National Security
In the first debate, he said he would withdraw from Afghanistan "tomorrow," was against the war in Iraq from the beginning, and was also opposed to intervention in Libya (Syria was not yet an issue at the time). He is solidly against war, saying in the 6th debate, "The biggest threat to our national security is the fact that we're bankrupt." As part of his promise to balance the budget, he supports a 43% cut to military spending.

Immigration and Trade
He said in the first debate that there was "very little, if any benefit" to securing the border, and that freer immigration would create "tens of millions of jobs." On trade, he said, "I'm a free market guy... I don't favor tariffs of any kind, whatsoever." In the two debates, he was only able to address trade with one country, Cuba, which he supports, because he believes that trade encourages friendship. 

Taxes and Spending
He supports the Fair Tax, a national sales tax that would replace the corporate and personal income taxes. On spending, he would balance the budget in his first year in office. Since he says current spending outpaces revenue by 43%, that's how much he wants to cut from all federal spending, including 43% each from the military, Medicare and Medicaid. To get it done, he would turn Medicare and Medicaid into block grants, veto any bill where expenditures exceeded revenue, completely eliminate the Department of Education and subject federal programs to cost-benefit analyses, then get rid of the ones that don't measure up.

The Economy
To get the economy growing again, he would restructure the tax code and greatly reduce federal spending as described above. He also sees freer immigration as a way to encourage "tens of millions" of new jobs. He would eliminate the federal minimum wage, and stop extending unemployment benefits.

Social Issues
He declined to describe himself as "pro-life," and said in the first debate that he supports abortion "up until viability." (While viability lacks a precise definition, that would allow abortions at least into the fifth month of pregnancy, and possibly later.) However, he opposes public funds for abortion, and favors parental notification and counseling. On drugs, he admits to having smoked marijuana, and supports legalization along with regulation and taxation of marijuana. While gay marriage didn't come up in the debates, on Twitter he often sells himself as the only candidate supporting "marriage equality" (at least, prior to Obama's recent conversion). 

Ron Paul
When directly asked in the sixth debate what made him a better choice for libertarian Republicans than Ron Paul, Johnson said, "I'm not going to presume to make that assumption." When asked who his running mate would be if it had to be someone at the sixth debate, he said Ron Paul. On Twitter, many of his public tweets are also directed towards Ron Paul. While I haven't seen anything explicitly laying this out, I suspect he looks at Paul's age and wants to be the next Ron Paul once Paul himself leaves public life. It will be very interesting to see how much support Johnson gets from Paulites once Paul eventually quits the race.

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