Potential 2012 presidential candidate visits Newton
Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico and one-time RAGBRAI rider, visited with Newton Daily News staff members Friday afternoon as part of OUR America Initiative. The 501(c)(4) political advocacy committee, on which Johnson serves as honorary chairman, allows him to “raise money and speak out on the issues of the day.” One of the main issues, according to Johnson, includes finding solutions to the nation’s bankruptcy.
As governor of New Mexico, Johnson strongly believed in running state government as a business: finding the best products and services for the lowest cost.
“For me, everything was a cost-benefit analysis, everything that I did,” he said. “What are we spending our money on? What are we getting for our money?”
As a result, the Republican governor in a 2:1 Democratic state vetoed more bills than perhaps the other 49 governors combined, pulling New Mexico, he says, out of a financial hole. He believes the cost-benefit analysis approach should be applied to the United States as a whole.
At this time, Johnson’s legal status prevents him from announcing any plans of running for president during the 2012 election, but traveling the country with OUR America allows him to put a voice to issues important to him. Among those issues:
Balancing the national budget
“I think the greatest threat to our way of life is that we continue to spend more money than we take in,” Johnson said. “I think we’re at a crossroads. I’m one that believes that we might be on the verge of an imminent financial collapse. ...
“The federal government can print money to cover its obligations, and that’s the pickle that we’re in. I think there’s a tsunami of cash out there that at some point’s going to hit us and it’s going to result in a, well, what we’ve seen already is a severely devalued dollar. I think that the government should be pursuing strong dollar policies as opposed to weak dollar policies. A balanced budget would strengthen the dollar immediately.”
• Job creation
“Elimination of the corporate income tax in this country, I think, would create tens of millions of jobs long-term,” Johnson said. “The notion that here would be the place to start up and nurture companies — I think, because of our convoluted immigration policies, that right now we’re sending kids that we’re educating here in the US from abroad, we’re sending them back to their country of origin where they will ultimately employ tens of millions of Indians as opposed to U.S. citizens with companies that will ultimately compete against the United States, as opposed to being United States companies.
“We’re not the place to do business anymore, and we should be. And can be.”
“I think that we could address the issues with the border by making it easy to get a work visa, and a work visa needs to be differentiated — I’m not talking about citizenship, I’m not talking about a green card, I’m talking about a work visa,” Johnson said. “I think a work visa needs to entail a background check and a Social Security card so that applicable taxes would get paid. Immigration needs to be about work, not welfare. Make it easy to get a work visa. For those 11 million illegal immigrants that are here in this country right now, I think there needs to be a recognition of the No. 1 reason that they’re here illegally: The government has made it impossible to get a work visa.”
• Legalizing marijuana
“Legalize marijuana and arguably 75 percent of the border violence with Mexico goes away, that being the estimate of the Mexican drug cartels activities that are involved in the trade of marijuana,” Johnson said. “If 28,000 deaths south of the border over the last four years doesn’t allow us to connect the dots between prohibition and violence, then I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to connect those dots. Let’s see: prohibition of alcohol, the rise of the mob, disputes being played out with guns rather than in the courts ... haven’t we done this before? A lot of the illegal crossing has to do with the drug trades.”
Johnson proposes issuing identification similar to that of alcohol and controlling, regulating and taxing the sale of marijuana. He argues that legalizing the drug would put our court systems to better use by focusing more on hard crime.
The former governor also advocates pulling troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq “tomorrow,” as well as repealing Obama’s health care plan. But he’d like to see Republicans gain credibility by also repealing the prescription healthcare plan passed during the Bush administration.
“As a Republican, I was embarrassed by what happened,” he said. “Republicans are the only party that are going to get us out of this, but why would Americans give Republicans control of the Senate and the presidency when we just did that a decade ago and what they did is they gave us the largest entitlement program hole that we’d ever had? I’m hopeful that the House members do what they say they’re gonna do. I’m hopeful that Republicans get control of the Senate and the White House and actually deliver.”
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