Ex-NM Gov. Johnson: Spending Threatens Security

Sunday, 26 Dec 2010 11:23 PM

By Henry J. Reske and Ashley Martella

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Government spending must be halted, even in politically hazardous areas such as defense and Social Security, or it will destroy the country and the American way of life, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson tells Newsmax.TV. The possible presidential candidate also advocates a system of work visas to deal with the illegal immigration problem.

“I think that the biggest threat to national security is the fact that we spend more money than what we take in,” said Johnson, a Republican who was New Mexico’s governor for two terms.

“I think the biggest threat to our way of life is the fact that we have spent more money than we can afford, putting us in a state of bankruptcy, and unless we address this situation now, I think that we’re going to be left with no country at all,” he said during the exclusive interview.

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Both the states and the federal government ended up in dire financial straits the same way — through “political promises that were made that should have never been made,” said Johnson, who tagged Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and defense as the “big four” government promises.

To deal with Medicaid and Medicare, he advocated a system of block grants that would leave “the delivery of healthcare to the poor and those over 65 to the states.”

Although Social Security needs to be reformed, he said it is not nearly the problem Medicare is. Nonetheless, he said the retirement age needs to be raised and benefits should be reduced.

“With regard to defense, I don’t think we can continue to spend more money than all the other countries in the world combined when we’re only 5 percent of the world’s population,” he said. “This is a new world reality that is going to require the United States to stop being the world’s sheriff. We can’t continue to nation build when we have our own nation to build.”

Noting that the United States now borrows 43 cents of every dollar spent, he advocated withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We should be out of Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow,” he said. “I think that the issues that we will face by getting out of those two countries will be the same tomorrow as they would be 25 years from now.”

A year ago, Johnson started Our America Initiative, which he described as a political advocacy group that would put a voice to the national outrage over the deficit spending and to look at solutions. He said he also is trying to broaden the Republican base so Americans might give the GOP another chance at governing.

“I don’t know why citizens might do that, though, given the fact that, in the mid-’90s, they gave Republicans that chance. And I think Republicans blew it by passing a prescription healthcare benefit and running up record deficits when they controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency.”

On the subject of illegal immigration, Johnson advocates a system that would make it as easy as possible to get a work visa but cautioned that it would not be a green card or citizenship. It would entail a background check and require paying applicable taxes.

“With regard to the 11 million illegal immigrants that are in this country right now I would set up a grace period by which they can get a legal work visa, again not a green card, not citizenship, but a legal work visa,” he said. “And then once you’ve set this up, once you allow that grace period to pass, then make it a one strike you’re out: If you’re in this country illegally you’re going to be arrested, you’re going to be deported, and you’re not going to come back.”

Johnson, a former businessman and avid outdoorsman who has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, refused to give a yes or no when asked whether he will run. The legal status of the Our America Initiative "does not allow me to comment about running for political office," he said.

On other issues, Johnson said:
  • The tax system is unfair and doesn’t promote growth, innovation, or entrepreneurship.
  • The corporate income tax should be eliminated.
  • The “devil is always in the details” when it comes to a flat tax, which could turn into a tax increase.
  • If marijuana were legalized, border violence would be reduced 75 percent.
  • He supports a woman’s right to choose abortion until the time of viability.
  • He favors gay civil unions.
  • Obamacare should be repealed, along with prescription healthcare benefit passed when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House.

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