On the issues: Gary Johnson

https://www.johnsonweld.com/issues

Wasteful spending

By 2017, the national debt will be $20 trillion. That is arguably the single greatest threat to our national security.

The idea that we can somehow balance the federal budget without cutting military spending and reforming entitlements is fantasy.

Gov. 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. No line in the budget will be immune from scrutiny and reduction.

And he pledges to veto any legislation that will result in deficit spending, forcing Congress to override his veto in order to spend money we don’t have.

Taxes

The tax code is more than 70,000 pages, enforced by a government agency with almost 100,000 employees. As a result, our tax code has created a nightmare for the average American, while providing shelter for those with the means to manipulate it.

Gov. Johnson advocates for the elimination of special-interest tax loopholes, to get rid of double taxation on small businesses, and ultimately, the replacement of all income and payroll taxes with a single consumption tax that determines your tax burden by how much you spend, not how much you earn.

Such a tax would be structured to ensure that no one’s tax burden for the purchase of basic family necessities would be increased. To the contrary, costs of necessities would likely decrease with the elimination of taxes already included in the price of virtually everything we buy.

Term limits

Under a republican form of government, representatives should be accountable to all people, not institutional forces like lobbyists, special interests and partisan gamesmanship. Yet today, politicians often are unable to do their job because they are incentivized to do what it takes to get re-elected. This doesn’t make them bad people. But it does make for bad representation.

This is why we adopted the 22nd Amendment in 1947, to limit the number of terms a president can hold office to two terms.

Can a Republican support gay marriage? Not if his or her first priority is to get re-elected.

Can a Democrat vote for a tax cut? Not if his or her first priority is to get re-elected.

As spending continues unchecked, wars continue and government keeps taking away more freedoms, the dedication that politicians have to getting re-elected keeps them from doing the job they were elected to do in the first place.

That’s why Johnson is a strong advocate of term limits. And that’s why Gov. Bill Weld served as national co-chairman of U.S. Term Limits.

Jobs

Johnson has said that “As governor, I didn’t create a single job.” His point, of course, is that government doesn’t “create” jobs. Entrepreneurs, businesses and economic prosperity are the building blocks for job growth.

Govs. Johnson and Weld believe that we must allow a regulatory and tax environment that incentivizes fairness, not one that picks winners and losers.

Johnson and Weld helped create conditions for job growth in their states. In the White House, they will create the conditions for massive job growth across the entire country.

Civil liberties

Our founding fathers established the 4th Amendment, for example, to prevent the government from snooping into our private lives without a warrant. Today, we have a national government that spies on private communications, monitors your financial transactions, photographs your license plates and even will track everything you do at a public library — all without warrants or due process of law.

Johnson and Weld want to get the government out of your life. Out of your cell phone. Out of your bedroom. And back into the business of protecting your freedoms, not restricting them.

This is why Johnson embraced marriage equality before many current Democratic leaders joined the parade. He also calls for an end to the drug war and to start treating drug abuse like a disease instead of a crime.

Weld was not only an early proponent of civil rights for gays and lesbians, he appointed the judge who wrote the opinion that established marriage equality as a matter of constitutional right. He also is an outspoken defender of a woman’s right to choose, rather than allow the government to make such an important and personal decision for them.

Johnson believes that people should make choices in their personal lives. Responsible adults should be free to marry whom they want, arm themselves if they want, and lead their personal lives as they see fit — as long as they aren’t harming anyone else in doing so.

Supporting our veterans

For Gov. Johnson, honoring our veterans begins with a pledge that those serving in the military today will be asked to go into harm’s way only for clear, defined and justified reasons. They will not be sent to risk their lives just because politicians decide to topple a foreign government — with no clear U.S. interest in doing so or plan for what comes next.

Our military will not be asked to engage in nation-building or to resolve conflicts on the other side of the globe that have defied resolution for hundreds of years. The men and women of our military will be asked only to protect and defend the United States – and to do so with a firm understanding of the objective.

For our veterans who have served and returned to civilian life, many with injuries and emotional scars, Gov. Johnson pledges to provide them with the health care, support and transitional assistance they deserve.

From elder care to PTSD to the specific health challenges of women who have served in uniform, veterans have a wide range of urgent needs. For some, the VA medical system is the best or only option. That system must function efficiently, provide timely care, and meet the standards we would expect for our own family members. For those who need care from private physicians or hospitals, that option must be available. A strong believer in the power of competition and the marketplace, Johnson will bring that power to bear in the provision of care to our veterans.

Likewise, as many veterans’ organizations have asked, Johnson will remove federal obstacles to the testing and use of medical cannabis to treat PTSD and other conditions for which it has shown promise.

Johnson believes it is part of our moral contract with those who have served to not only maintain the GI Bill, but to enhance public-private partnerships designed to match veterans’ skills with the career choices they wish to make.

Gov. Johnson also understands that family support, counseling and other tools for helping veterans deal with their challenges are essential. Homelessness, substance abuse and suicide are all-too frequent among veterans as they re-enter civilian life – and our obligation to support those who have served does not end when they sign their discharge papers.

Foreign policy and national defense

The objectives of both our foreign policy and our military should be straightforward: To protect us from harm and to allow us to exercise our freedoms.

As president, Johnson will move quickly to cut off funding on which violent extremist armies depend. He will repair relationships with our allies. And he will send our brave soldiers to war only when clearly authorized by Congress after meaningful, transparent deliberation and debate.

Immigration

Having served as governor of a border state, Johnson knows the complex issues associated with immigration reform firsthand. Solving immigration problems is not as easy as building a wall or simply offering amnesty.

We should appreciate and respect the diversity of immigrants that come to the United States to be productive members of society. But we also need to recognize that everyone who comes here is not so well-intentioned.

Johnson and Weld believe that we should focus on creating a more efficient system of providing work visas, conducting background checks and incentivizing non-citizens to pay their taxes, obtain proof of employment and otherwise assimilate with our diverse society.

Criminal justice reform

How is it that the United States, the land of the free, has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world? The answer is simple: Over time, politicians have criminalized far too many aspects of people’s personal lives.

The failed war on drugs is the greatest example. Well over 100 million Americans have, at one time or another, used marijuana. Yet, today, simple possession and use of marijuana remains a crime — despite the fact that a majority of Americans now favor its legalization.

And who is most harmed by the war on drugs? Minorities, the poor and anyone else without access to high-priced attorneys.

More generally, mandatory minimum sentences for a wide range of offenses and other efforts by politicians to be “tough” have removed far too much discretion from judges and prosecutors.

Internet freedom

It is no coincidence that the innovation and entrepreneurship the internet has allowed and the resulting improvements to our daily lives have happened largely without interference from the government.

Johnson has often said, “There is nothing wrong with the internet that I want the government to fix.” Nothing in history has allowed for more innovation than the internet. It has literally changed our world.

Congress recently passed cyber security legislation which, like the Patriot Act, gives bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., the power to monitor and collect information about our private lives. Other politicians are demanding that unelected agents of the government be granted “back doors” into encrypted and private data so they can gather confidential information without anyone knowing about it. Security, they argue, depends on the mass collection of personal and private data.

We disagree.

Security is important, for sure. But throwing away our right to privacy has the opposite effect of protecting our freedom. That’s why the Fourth Amendment says that the government can’t snoop into our private lives unless they have a good reason to do so.

Environment

Johnson and Weld believe strongly that the first responsibility of government is to protect citizens from those who would do them harm, whether it be a foreign aggressor, a criminal or someone who harms the environment.

Gov. Johnson believes the Environmental Protection Agency, when focused on its true mission, plays an important role in keeping the environment and citizens safe.

Johnson does not, however, believe the government should be engaging in social and economic engineering.  Preventing a polluter from harming our water or air is one thing. Having politicians in Washington, D.C., acting on behalf of high-powered lobbyists determine the future of clean energy innovation is another.

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.

When it comes to global climate change, Johnson and Weld believe that the politicians in Washington, D.C. are having the wrong debate.

Is the climate changing? Probably so.

Is man contributing to that change? Probably so.

But the critical question is whether politicians’ efforts to regulate, tax and manipulate the private sector are cost-effective – or effective at all. The debate should be about how we can protect our resources and environment for future generations. Johnson and Weld believe that the federal government should prevent future harm by focusing on regulations that protect us from real harm.

Education

As governor, Johnson sought to have a substantive discussion about the best way to provide a good education for our children.

He did so while working with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature and despite fierce opposition from special interests. He advocated a universally available program for school choice. Competition, he believes, will make our public and private educational institutions better.

Most important, Johnson believes that state and local governments should have more control over education policy. That is why he believes we should eliminate the federal Department of Education. Common Core and other attempts to impose national standards and requirements on local schools are costly, overly bureaucratic and compromise our ability to provide our children with a good education.

Abortion

Gov. Johnson’s approach to governing is based on a belief that individuals should be allowed to make their own choices in their personal lives. Abortion is a deeply personal choice.

Johnson has the utmost respect for the deeply-held convictions of those on both sides of the abortion issue. It is an intensely personal question, and one that government is ill-equipped to answer.

On a personal level, Johnson believes in the sanctity of the life of the unborn. As governor, he supported efforts to ban late-term abortions.

However, Johnson recognizes that the right of a woman to choose is the law of the land, and has been for several decades. That right must be respected and despite his personal aversion to abortion, he believes that such a very personal and individual decision is best left to women and families, not the government.

Women seeking to exercise their legal right must not be subjected to prosecution or denied access to health services.

War on drugs

Legalizing and regulating marijuana will save lives and make our communities safer by eliminating crime and creating an industry that can legitimately participate in America’s economy.

The federal government should not stand in the way of states that choose to legalize marijuana. Johnson and Weld would remove cannabis from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which will allow individual states to make their own decisions about both recreational and medical marijuana — just as they have done for decades with alcohol.

This also would allow testing of marijuana for medical purposes, as well as regulation that reflects individual states’ values and needs. We need to treat drug abuse as a health issue, not a crime.

We can save thousands of lives and billions of dollars by simply changing our approach to drug abuse. That is why Johnson came out as an early proponent on the national stage in 1999 while governor of New Mexico, and publicly stated his support of marijuana legalization.

Johnson and Weld do not support the legalization of other recreational drugs that are currently illegal. It is, however, their belief that drug rehabilitation and harm-reduction programs result in a more productive society than incarceration and arrests for drug use.

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