Don’t raise the debt ceiling, says Gary Johnson: Pain today beats economic collapse tomorrow

Gary Johnson is an unusual politician. Contrarian but constructive, Johnson hopes to move the Republican Party in the direction of being a socially “tolerant” party that emphasizes limited government above all else.

In a lengthy interview with The Daily Caller, Johnson, a popular New Mexico governor from 1995 to 2003, described a range of policy positions that he brings to the Republican presidential primary.

New Hampshire, the early primary state with a large pool of independent and libertarian votes, is where Johnson hopes to break through. He cites the Granite State as the place where candidates can make it onto the national stage overnight.

Johnson’s unique political stances have attracted interest from national figures ranging from gay rights advocate Lt. Dan Choi — with whom he was scheduled to speak on Friday — and pot-smoking country music legend Willie Nelson.

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. (RELATED: Gary Johnson has his own plan for balancing budget)

Johnson said that as governor he could have been more supportive of gay rights, an issue that currently distinguishes him from his GOP competition. During that time he remained committed to a campaign pledge not to grant legal recognition to same-sex relationships, but said his thinking has since “evolved.”

This month Johnson targeted the “Marriage Vow” pledge, which was authored by Iowa’s Family Leader organization and signed by fellow presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. He called it offensive, un-American and un-Republican, and described it as a “promise to discriminate.”

The pledge, Johnson said, was an attack on almost every minority group in the country. (He jokingly mentioned that pot smokers were the only ones not condemned by it.) But he won’t take credit for discouraging other candidates from signing it, saying fellow candidates who followed his lead and declined the pledge cited its language, not the underlying principles.

Although libertarian social policy positions have won Johnson loyal supporters, he emphasizes fiscal issues as a major area of strength, promising as president to veto budgets laden with unnecessary spending and to be forthright about it. Johnson also said he favors a flat tax based on consumption.

Gary Johnson’s campaign niche remains a work in progress as he attempts to differentiate himself from fellow libertarian candidate Ron Paul. Johnson credited Paul as a highly influential figure who grew the “liberty movement” within the Republican Party, but dismissed criticism that his presence in the race is a threat to “the Ron Paul vote.”

If he loses the primary, Johnson would not entertain running as a Libertarian Party candidate, he said. But he also wouldn’t support a Republican candidate who would continue what he sees as failed policies, especially those on war. And that’s most of the GOP field, he said.

On immigration, Johnson proposes a system for documenting illegal immigrants that would grant social security numbers and work visas during a grace period. He contends that border enforcement won’t solve the problems of illegal immigration and that legalizing drugs would at least reduce most border violence.

Johnson said that his position on immigration is different from what is generally considered “amnesty” because it wouldn’t include citizenship.

During a conference call earlier in the week, Johnson said he would remain in the presidential race until the end, aiming to pick up support as other candidates drop out.

Asked if he would consider shifting gears and running for New Mexico’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2012, Johnson decisively rejected the idea, saying that the job prioritizes bringing back the bacon. “I would make a terrible senator,” Johnson said.

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  • tinteardrop

    He’s right but the courage in both the government and the populace is simply not there. It will, of course, eventually collapse on its own.

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  • Ham the Space Chimp

    Gary Johnson was our governor and he’s a great guy. He did amazing things for a very poor state and we ended up with a surplus in funds when he left.

    I constantly hear in the debates the media “allows’ him to be in, that he’s the only one making sense. I see the whole knee-jerk reaction to the marijuana thing as his biggest obstacle to overcome though the idea makes good economic and criminal justice system and border war sense.

    His views need more exposure, that’s for sure!

    • M Faraday

      The one thing that a president would have most control of is foreign policy. His libertarian leaning foreign policy with his correct views on gay marriage and victimless crime, makes him a very viable republican candidate among independents. He was also as you say great with the budget. He left New Mexico fiscally sound while surrounding states were in the red. But alas, the religious right along with the powerful military industrial complex will not endorse him. So the media will try to minimize him.

  • MzLiz

    I agree dookhh. We the people have assumed for far too long that politicians are representing our best interests at heart let alone our assumption they have the abilities to do this. I thought along with a majority by virtue of Obama’s campaign promises that he could and would transparently effectuate this change as he promised to get my vote. I really thought he was going to get this done but turns out these were all lies. Had he said I will try with your help but he didn’t, he promised change with no condition.

    So were right back where we have always been but poorer by factors of a trillion or 14. The world needs an enema with that nozzle place directly at the tip of Pennsylvania Ave. winding through Congress before emptying out into the Potomac. Burn the town down and then allow citizen representatives’ rebuild it. The lifers have too much security and have voted themselves pensions that take care of them and theirs for life. Where is the impetus to change if there is no real penalty? We’re not going to get real fundamental change until there are real ramifications for bad performance including their pensions but this will not happen until we the people remind DC who the subject of their representation is really for. I give this one more election cycle depending upon its outcome to really see the people coalesce into one unified and formative force.

  • dookhh

    I think the more time goes on, the more americans see that this house of cards is going to have to be allowed to collapse so we can begin to build one that works…..
    It is like a car that has totally shot motor, electrical, braking, interior, suspension and entire body that are all damaged beyond repair. Yes you could fix it- at what cost? Doesn’t it just make more sense to chunk the whole thing and get a new one at a thousandth the price of fixing the old one..?