Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee for president in 2012, tells Newsmax the overriding theme of his White House candidacy is: “Say no to government.”
Johnson believes the United States should abolish the income tax and the IRS, end the war in Afghanistan and the war on drugs, cut tax loopholes and eliminate the jobs of half the lobbyists in Washington.
He also calls for a form of amnesty for illegal aliens in the country and the legalization of marijuana to stamp out violence along the U.S.-Mexican border.
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Johnson served as Republican governor from 1995 to 2003, and sought the GOP presidential nomination in this election cycle. He withdrew from the race in December and won the Libertarian nomination on May 5.
Watch our exclusive interview. Story continues below.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Johnson was asked why he believes 2012 is the right time for American voters to leave the two dominant political parties.
“I’m representative of most Americans and I am speaking with a broad brushstroke and the notion that most people are fiscally responsible and socially accepting, tolerant,” he said.
“I’m the only candidate that wants to get out of Afghanistan tomorrow, end the wars. I’m the only candidate that wants to end the drug war. I’m the only candidate that wants to repeal the Patriot Act. I’m the only candidate that’s talking about marriage equality as being a constitutionally guaranteed right. I’m the only candidate that wants to balance the federal budget now, and that means reforming the entitlements: Medicaid, Medicare.
"So there is a third choice and it’s a considerably different choice. I wouldn’t be sitting here right now if I didn’t have a résumé to suggest that I would doggedly pursue the agenda that I’m talking about.
"I do have more executive experience — governmental executive experience — than the other two candidates combined. And for those that would roll their eyes and say, ‘Oh my gosh, all we need is another politician,’ my experience is that I have may have vetoed more legislation as governor of New Mexico than the other 49 governors in the country combined.
“So my experience is saying no to government. No to government spending, no to laws that really would just add time and money for you and I to have to comply with those laws.
“Everybody says, ‘There’s gridlock. We need cooperation between the two parties.’ Cooperation between Democrats and Republicans, that is code for how do we spend more money. I have no intention of spending more money.
As to why he served as a Republican governor but is now running for the White House as a Libertarian, Johnson said, “I really got shut out of the whole debate process. CNN really is the one that set that in stone.
"The message that I’m sending is similar to that of Ron Paul, and my voice is representative of the largest, fastest growing segment of American politics today, the whole Libertarian-leaning, Democrats-slashLibertarian, Republican-slash-Libertarian, Libertarian.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if there wasn’t a scenario that I could actually win, and that scenario would be polling at 15 percent and being on the national debate stage.
Right now, out of the 18 polling organizations, two of the organizations are including my name in the polls and I’m polling anywhere from a low of six percent to a high of 15. Most important is just getting in the polls right now.”
Johnson earned the nickname “Governor Veto” during his two terms in New Mexico, largely for cutting spending programs. Asked if cutting spending at the federal level would be more difficult, he responded: “I wouldn’t think so.
“What we want as citizens of this country is to elect leaders that actually are going to go in and fix the problems. I really think that unless we balance the federal budget, we’re going to find ourselves in a monetary collapse. What’s a monetary collapse? Well, it’s when the dollars that you have in your pocket don’t buy anything. And I am talking about the history of other countries that embark on spending like we’re doing.”
Johnson dismissed concerns that sharply cutting defense spending will impair economic growth, saying that was one of the big concerns after World War II, but exactly the opposite happened.
“I am promising to advocate on the part of the Fair Tax, throwing out the entire federal tax system," he added. "No more income tax, no more corporate tax, no more IRS — abolish the IRS, abolish the tax withholdings from your payroll check and replace it with one federal tax, a consumption tax.
“No more IRS, no more having to spend any time with withholdings or loopholes.
“It’s a phase-in over a couple of years, but it’s really an exciting notion that we would issue pink slips to half of Washington lobbyists, because half of Washington lobbyists are there to buy loopholes. Loopholes are for sale. Both parties sell them. All that goes away.”
Johnson also wants to cut federal spending on education and abolish the Department of Education.
“The Department of Education was created in 1979, under Jimmy Carter. So if you take educational performance in this country since 1979, there is nothing — nothing — to suggest that the federal Department of Education is value-added when it comes to education.
“The Department of Education gives each state about 11 cents out of every school dollar that every state spends. But it comes with 16 cents worth of strings attached. So what people don’t understand is that it’s really a negative to take federal money.
“If you just returned education to the states, you would have 50 laboratories of innovation. The notion of one-size-fits-all Washington, that’s crazy.
“As governor of New Mexico, I may have been more outspoken than any governor in the country regarding school choice, bringing competition to public education. So in this context of 50 laboratories of innovation, I think states [should] devolve education to the local level.”
As for his reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision striking down most of the Arizona immigration law, Johnson tells Newsmax: “First of all, I think states should have the right to determine their own policies. In this case, Arizona thinks they have a better way of dealing with immigration than the Federal government. I think Arizona should have at it.
“But let me tell you, if I had been presented with Arizona’s immigration bill as governor, I would have vetoed that legislation. I think it has led to discrimination. So the Supreme Court ruling, from my standpoint, accurately reflects what is happening.
“I think we should make it as easy as possible for somebody who wants to come into this country and work to get a work visa — not a Green Card, not citizenship, but a work visa. And let’s not build a fence, that would be an incredible waste of time and money in my opinion.
He said a work visa would entail a background check and a Social Security card, so applicable taxes get paid, adding, 'If we applied the Fair Tax, taxes would not be an issue at all because whether you’re legal, illegal, a visitor to this country or a U.S. citizen, you are not going to be able to avoid a federal consumption tax.
“With regard to the 11 million illegal immigrants that are in this country right now, I think we need to set up a grace period where we can document those illegal immigrants. Then let’s look at the root cause of border violence, which I would suggest is the prohibition of drugs.
“Legalize marijuana and arguably 75 percent of that border violence with Mexico goes away. There have been 40,000 deaths south of the border over the last four years — this is a Prohibition phenomenon where disputes are being played out with guns rather than the courts.
“I really think that marijuana legalization is at a tipping point. Fifty percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana. More people are talking about it than ever before. And the more people talk about it, the better the issue does because people understand that this drug problem is a Prohibition phenomenon. We tried this when it came to alcohol.
“It’s on the ballot right now in Colorado. Regulate marijuana like alcohol. I think that Colorado is going to pass that legislation. People get to vote on it. I really think that Colorado will be the first domino of 50 dominos to fall.”
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Discussing the major challenge he now faces as a third-party candidate, Johnson said: “I need to be in the polls. So what I’m going to ask everybody watching this interview is, just get on our website, garyjohnson2012.com, and get a phone number for the 18 polling organizations. Give them a call and ask them to put my name in the polls.
“I’m confident that if my name just appeared in the polls, 15 percent would be something that in fact would be achieved. I am one of three candidates that’s going to be on the ballot in all 50 states. With just a little bit of push, people would take a look at what I’ve done, and that’s all I ask people to do. Just have a look.”
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