Gary Johnson talks National Debt and National Security
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(MANCHESTER, NH) Gary Johnson says the United States is on the brink of a financial collapse, and only an immediate end to the federal spending spree will keep the country from going over the edge. The former New Mexico Governor was back in New Hampshire this week promoting the need for fiscal discipline and his organization, the Our America Initiative.
In an interview with New Hampshire Watchdog on the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on the campus on St. Anselm College, the libertarian-minded Republican repeated his claim that the national debt, which just passed $14 trillion, is the top threat to America’s national security. He says the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives has to live up to its campaign commitments to smaller government and less spending.
“If they don’t, I think the Republican Party becomes irrelevant,” Johnson said. “We need to balance the budget in this country tomorrow, and I don’t see any party being able to accomplish this other than the Republicans, and the Representatives in Congress are going to set the stage as to whether the American electorate it going to give Republicans back that power.”
Johnson says Congress has to be willing to tackle the largest and most popular programs in the federal budget.
“Let’s start with the Big Four; Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Defense.” Johnson advised. “When it comes to Medicaid and Medicare, I think the federal government ought to block grant the states the money to do that.”
Johnson advocates sweeping reforms in the large entitlement programs, including a possible increase in the retirement age from 65 to as high as 72. He says Medicare will engulf the entire federal budget unless it is reformed. Johnson calls Social Security reform “very doable” with a combination of raising the retirement age, increasing the amount of payroll subject to withholding, and means testing of benefits for wealthier workers.
“We’re spending more money than the rest of world combined on defense, and we’re 5% of the world’s population,” Johnson argues in calling for cuts in defense spending. “We can’t continue to be the world policeman. We can’t continue to nation-build when we have our own nation to build.”
Johnson admits that fiscal collapse isn’t the only threat to American security, but says country would be safer with its troops home from Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
“I think that they issues we’ll face getting out of Afghanistan tomorrow are the same issues we’d face 25 years from now,” Johnson explained. “Are 100,000 troops on the ground in Germany necessary? In Europe? I don’t have the sense that they are.”
But Johnson says reducing America’s foreign military deployments won’t mean an end to U.S. military alliances.
“I’m opposed to foreign aid, because we’re borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar to pay for foreign aid,” Johnson said. “When it comes to military alliances, Israel is a key military ally, and will remain so.”
But Johnson questions the current U.S. policy of defending an independent Taiwan from Communist China.
“I think Taiwan is an absolutely unique situation. It is part of China, and I think that ultimately we do not want to get involved in a world war over Taiwan,” Johnson said. “It is a military alliance. It is something we should maintain.”
And say argues that the risks of nuclear proliferation don’t justify American military action, in North Korea or Iran.
“Of course, North Korea has nuclear weapons,” Johnson stated. “I don’t think Israel is going to sit still for Iran developing nuclear weapons, pointing them and firing them at Israel.”
Johnson has made repeated trips to New Hampshire in the past year, fueling speculation about a run for President in 2012, but he says he’s visited 30 states in the past year, and has been pleased by the positive response to his message of financial restraint and personal freedom.
Watch the full interview with Governor Gary Johnson.
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