Benzinga Radio: Governor Gary Johnson Talks Reform Platform for Presidential Run
I had the opportunity yesterday to speak with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson on his decision to run for the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential election. We talked about some of Governor Johnson's key platforms, such as his plans for fixing the economy and making the country's health care system sustainable. We also decided to throw in some discussion of Dodd-Frank and campaign finance for good measure. Here is what Governor Johnson had to say.
On what he's been up to since leaving office:
"I've been involved in a couple of entrepreneurial ventures, of which I didn't make any money at all. They were exciting. I didn't lose any money at either of them either, so that was a good thing."
"One of the things that happened to me five years ago is I had a very serious paragliding accident, and as a result of that I put a tool belt on, and myself along with a whole bunch of other people, I built my dream home. We worked on that project for two and a half years."
"I had taken up paragliding for a couple of years and found it to be a wonderful sport. On this particular morning I took off first; I also took off from a tight spot, and when I took off I realized I was flying into the trees that for two weeks I had been flying over. Rather than getting tangled up in the trees, which I thought I was going to do, I basically stalled and fell a straight 50 feet onto my back."
On why he's running for president:
"I find myself outraged over the fact that we are bankrupt. I think the biggest issue facing this country right now is that we are on the verge of a financial collapse. It's going to be the bond market that collapses, because there is no paying $14 trillion in debt given the $1.65 trillion deficit, this year, last year, the year before, and the years going forward. We need to balance the budget, and I'm proposing a balanced budget for the year 2013."
"When it comes to jobs in this country, I am proposing eliminating the federal corporate income tax, believing that would reestablish this country as the only place to start up, grow, and nurture a business."
"It's a double tax. We as individuals own the corporations. When that money gets distributed to you and I, that's when that money gets taxed."
"I would also be advocating eliminating the income tax, eliminating the IRS, and replacing that with a fair tax, which by all accounts free-market economists believe a fair tax would be just that, a fair tax. Everyone would pay their fair share and it would absolutely promote savings by doing that."
"The consumption tax that's being proposed is approximately 20% as a value-added tax that would replace all other taxes--with the exception of property tax--and that would get applied to everything it is that we purchase. By doing that, it would be fair because everybody would pay their share of that. There is also a component built in to the fair tax proposal that would exclude you from paying that tax if you didn't have a certain threshold level of income. For the most part, everyone would pay this tax and it would very much promote savings because that would be the difference between what you earned and consumption."
"I would be proposing cutting spending by 43%, that being the amount of money that we are currently printing and borrowing. I would start off by talking about Medicaid, Medicare, and military spending, those being really the big three."
"Social Security would really be reforming Social Security; it wouldn't be about cutting Social Security. Without raising taxes, we could make Social Security solvent into the future by raising the retirement age, having a means testing--there being all sorts of options available in the means testing area--and then changing the escalator built into Social Security from the wage index to the inflation rate, which in and of itself would make Social Security solvent into the future."
On health care:
"For Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government should block-grant the states a fixed amount of money--43% less than what we're currently spending--to give health care to the poor and those over 65 to the state. Fifty laboratories of best practice, fifty laboratories of doing things in a better way. I am believing that there would be best practices. We're all very competitive; we would emulate the best practices. There would be failure. We would do everything we could to avoid the failure."
"The reform to health care needs to be free-market reform. I think that health care in this country is as far removed from the free market as it possibly could be."
"Why should there even be insurance in a health care system that was absolutely free-market driven? I would argue that 40% plus of health care right now is bureaucratic, that it doesn't need to exist. I would suggest that within health care, all sorts of tests and procedures are being mandated from a liability standpoint, not from a cost-benefit standpoint. Really, you're talking about fundamental change in how we purchase insurance, which would be you and I going out and shopping for what it is that we need and want, coupled with the marketplace delivering what we need and want in more cost-effective ways."
"I would hope [to see the health insurance industry marginalized]. The notion that we have insurance to cover ourselves for ongoing medical coverage flies in the face of cost effectiveness. It would be analogous to having grocery insurance. We don't buy grocery insurance because, number one, why would anyone sell us grocery insurance? If we had it, you would go to the grocery store and there wouldn't even be prices advertised because you and I wouldn't pay for groceries--grocery insurance would. Why would we buy ground round when we could by filets, because we don't pay for it, grocery insurance does?"
On food and gas prices:
"Rising food and gas prices have to do directly with the fact that we are printing money to cover these obligations. We are printing money out of thin air. Balance the federal budget, and all of the sudden, our money becomes sound. All of the sudden, our money is not worth less today than it was yesterday, or a month ago, or a year ago. More money in the system chasing the same goods and services results in inflation. This is not magic, this is government policy."
On balancing the budget now:
"It's going to be extremely difficult, but it will be easier to do it now than to wait further down the road when we are not going to have the ability to fix it. We are going to be managing a default, we are going to be managing a collapse."
"That's not going to be pretty, and it has not happened in our history, but in the history of the world, the history of great civilizations--this is the demise of great civilization, and we are no exception."
On financial regulatory reform:
"Repeal [Dodd-Frank], for starters, understanding that this is just another example of government passing laws with unintended consequences."
"This is government picking winners and losers. In this case, the big banks are bigger, the whole notion of 'too big to fail' lives on, and that was just codified in this legislation."
"With this kind of legislation, there is a political favoritism here that is just that, it's unfair. That's what we do, we politically favor businesses, individuals that are well-connected as opposed to a system that gives us all an equal shot."
"It's always been my position that this has not been about regulation, this has been about the fact that government stepped in and bailed out poor decision-making. I don't know if it was ever really an issue of regulation or new regulation as much as government picking winners and losers, taking your and my money to bail out Wall Street, having made poor decisions that should have been rewarded with failure as opposed to being allowed to continue. That's why I think that we've just delayed the inevitable when it comes to the collapse of our economy due to uncontrolled spending."
"If we would have allowed banks to fail, the downturn would have been steeper, but we would have had a fire sale, and as a result of the fire sale, the market would have stepped up and there would have been a purchase price at some point. We never had the fire sale, and because of that, we have a real estate malaise that without a collapse may be ten years to correct currently. We never had the fire sale; we never let free markets work. We had free markets on the way up; we had communism on the way down. Let capitalism work, not communism."
"The collapse that is coming is a collapse in the bond market, that no one has an appetite for our debt given the inability to repay $14 trillion of debt because of ongoing deficits. That is what is going to happen. Balance the federal budget. That sets the stage for, I think, hundreds of years of further prosperity."
On campaign finance reform:
"Ideally, the way it should be set up is to just have 100% transparency. If General Motors is going to give me a million dollars, just make sure that everybody knows General Motors gave me a million dollars as opposed to General Motors giving a million dollars to the Republican National Committee, telling them to turn around and give it to me. The paper trail reads that GM gave a million dollars to the RNC, not that they gave a million dollars to me."
"Make this 100% transparent. I think we should couple it with having to wear jackets with patches similar to race car drivers, the patches being relative to the size of contribution given to the candidates, and let the candidates wear those jackets everywhere they go."
"Through legislation, you could get to 100% transparency, and that, in my opinion, is the only reform that's needed when it comes to campaign finance."
On the 2012 election:
"I hope Republicans are given back control of the Senate, retain control of the House, and control the Presidency because I'm laboring under the belief that only the Republican party can fix all of this."
"Why the electorate is going to do that, given that just a few short years ago, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency, and at that time, they passed a prescription drug care benefit, which at that time was the largest entitlement ever passed, and it ran up record deficits."
"My point is that both parties can share in our collective 'here is where we're at financially,' but I'm believing that only Republicans are capable of fixing it. That's what I'm signed up here to be a part of."
Be sure to check out the full audio of the conversation here: Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson discusses the economy, health care, financial regulatory reform
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