Gary Johnson Wants To Do More Than Legalize Pot

Gary Johnson is running as the Libertarian candidate in the presidential election. Right now Real Clear Politics has him garnering 8.3% of support in the national polls. With the race tightening between Clinton and Trump, that is causing concern in some circles.

But as national and battleground polls tighten and Democrats’ hand-wringing grows more urgent, operatives both within and allied with Clinton’s political operation who are looking around to explain Trump’s new polling strength are growing increasingly wary of the former New Mexico governor. His appeal with young and libertarian-leaning liberals, they worry, could create a growing headache for them in western states like Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona — if not yet reason to believe he could hand the states to Trump…

A handful of recent polls show Johnson drawing evenly from Trump’s and Clinton’s support — not just whittling down Trump’s.

Trying to understand the portion of Johnson’s meager 8.3% that he is drawing from Clinton is difficult. But some people assume that his libertarian approach to legalizing marijuana might be attractive to some voters – especially young people. So it behooves us to take a look at what else Johnson is proposing to do. Here is a list of policies where he is indistinguishable from Republicans:

* Balance the federal budget without raising taxes.

Governor Johnson has pledged that his first major act as President will be to submit to Congress a truly balanced budget. No gimmicks, no imaginary cuts in the distant future. Real reductions to bring spending in line with revenues, without tax increases. No line in the budget will be immune from scrutiny and reduction.

The former governor fails to provide any specific spending reductions he will make.

* Get rid of all all corporate, income and payroll taxes and replace them with a regressive consumption tax.

* To create jobs, get rid of government regulation and taxes.

We simply need to apply common sense to regulatory policy. Let’s get rid of the unnecessary laws and taxes that syphon the resources businesses use to create the jobs we need.

* In 2011, Johnson said that he was opposed to raising the debt ceiling unless it was paired with a balanced budget amendment.

An advocate of fiscal conservatism, Johnson said that he opposes raising the debt ceiling. Many Americans would be hurt immediately by the decision, he said, but it’s far preferable to a future economic calamity caused by the over-printing of money.

The only conceivable way he would support raising the debt ceiling would be along with a balanced budget amendment that would take effect immediately.

* Unlike Republicans, Johnson doesn’t deny the reality of man-made climate change. But he thinks the free market can take care of the problem.

In a healthy economy that allows the market to function unimpeded, consumers, innovators, and personal choices will do more to bring about environmental protection and restoration than will government regulations driven by special interests.

* On student debt:

Well, the main reason for the high cost of college tuition is guaranteed government student loans. If guaranteed government student loans were to have never existed, I guarantee you college tuition would be half of what it is today. Because college tuition, colleges and universities are absolutely immune to market forces, supply and demand.

* On whether or not we should have a federal minimum wage:

I do not think government should be involved in this. I think it eliminates jobs…

I would sign legislation to abolish it.

* On entitlement programs:

He supports raising the retirement age, multi-pronged means testing for Social Security recipients, and changing the escalator built into Social Security from the wage index to the inflation rate. He wants Congress to investigate privatizing part or all of Social Security with the goal being that the investment of contributions could be self-directed.

He would block grant the remaining funds to the states to control all aspects of their own Medicaid and Medicare programs…

Johnson believes that funding for Social Security and Medicare should not come from payroll taxes, but instead should be funded out of revenues from the FairTax.

* On campaign finance reform:

Johnson believes the only necessary campaign finance reform is a mandate of “100% transparency.”

* Johnson is correct in saying that the war on drugs has been a failure that led to massive over-incarceration. But he has argued in favor of private for-profit prisons.

As is the case with many libertarians, it is on foreign policy that Johnson’s views align more with liberals on some issues. But his platform on domestic policy comes straight out of the Republican playbook.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.