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Gary Johnson: Less entitlement spending, less military spending, less hyperbole

August 27, 2011 - Mike Maneval
In an interview with former congressional staffer and objectivist blogger Scott Holleran last week, former New Mexico governor and presidential hopeful Gary Johnson reiterated his support for curtailing Social Security, through both means-testing and lifting the age of eligibility, and cutting Medicaid and Medicare by more than 40 percent. Reason magazine, reporting on a Johnson speech at the National Press Club, notes Johnson's stated top priority is balancing the budget. "We went to the moon," Johnson says, "we can balance the federal budget."

But Johnson's skepticism about government authority remains non-partisan - when Holleran asks if Johnson as president would move to strike down the health care reform act of 2010 as unconstitutional, Johnson says he would be open to that avenue ... and would be just as willing to overturn Republican-gained Medicare Part D prescription-drug handouts under the same approach. While he advocates Medicare and Medicaid cuts, he endorses cuts of an about equal percentage to military spending. And as principled and consistent as Johnson's campaign has been, the former governor shunts the demagoguery, paranoia and hyperbole so much of the punditry - and so many of his rivals in pursuing the Republican nomination - rely upon. So much so, one of Reason's headlines for its coverage of the aforementioned speech is the question, "can a nice guy finish first?" When asked by Holleran about First Lady Michelle Obama's anti-obesity efforts - efforts that other prominent Republican figures have likened to the first lady telling Americans they can't eat dessert or used as an opportunity to claim she herself is overweight, the triathlete Johnson called the initiative "terrific."

Perhaps the assessment by Politico's Jonathan Martin, who described Johnson as "laid-back," is correct. Or maybe Johnson shrewdly recognizes that the level of hyperbole and paranoid falsehood against the Obama administration may well leave those voters who every four years head into October undecided suspecting the accusations are petty-minded detritus, evidence of a viewpoint so clouded by animosity that any criticism likely is built on exagerrations and half-truths. And maybe Johnson knows his record is principled and consistent enough that he can treat his potential opponent as a man who has a different opinion on what size and scope the government should have, and not someone whose different opinion is prima facie evidence of unamerican tendencies and who must be feared.


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