Gary Johnson Presidential Debate: What the Libertarian Nominee Would Have Said at the Debate Last Night


In a previous post, I discussed how third party candidates like Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson are missing from the presidential debates, and could better hold the major parties accountable. I was curious as to how Gary Johnson would have responded to the questions at the second debate. To that end, here are the responses I think he would have given.

Question: As a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?

Gary Johnson: In order to ensure that young people like you can get jobs, we have to address the serious problem of excessive government interference in the economy.  Rather than focus on platitudes about how Mr. Romney “knows how to create jobs” or how Mr. Obama wants to “build manufacturing jobs in this country again,” I want to address the underlying causes of the continuing recession. We need to end the federal interventions that are merely counterproductive handouts to special interests that stifle the innovation and growth that free markets produce.

To accomplish this, we also need to substantially cut spending and reform the tax system. There should be no sacred cows in the federal government. We need to reform entitlement programs, eliminate costly military interventions, and stop destructive stimulus spending. In addition, we need to abolish the IRS and enact the Fair Tax. Rather than punish people for being productive, this system would tax expenditures. It is time to stop pretending that the federal government is not choking off job creation through excessive spending, high taxes, and unnecessary regulation.

Question: The energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it’s not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?

Gary Johnson: I would agree that it is not the job of the Department of Energy to lower gas prices. Nor is it its job to artificially raise them. It is fundamentally unconstitutional for the federal government to manipulate energy markets. Even worse, government efforts to encourage the use of certain energy sources over others are inefficient, inhibit the proper function of the market, and impose prohibitive costs on the American people. Instead, the government should let energy markets function and allow consumers to choose the energy sources that best meet their needs and allow producers to supply those energy sources, whatever they may be.

Question: Governor Romney [has] stated that if [he’s]elected president, [he] would plan to reduce the tax rates for all the tax brackets and that [he] would work with the Congress to eliminate some deductions in order to make up for the loss in revenue. Concerning the — these various deductions, the mortgage deductions, the charitable deductions, the child tax credit and also the — oh, what’s that other credit? I forgot. Oh, I remember. The education credits, which are important to me, because I have children in college. What would be your position on those things, which are important to the middle class?

Gary Johnson: Our tax system desperately needs fundamental reform rather than tinkering with rates or deductions. We need to eliminate the IRS, which has become a wasteful agency that raises costs for entrepreneurs and individuals. We need to eliminate income and business taxes, replacing them with the Fair Tax, which taxes expenditures instead of productivity. However, this system includes a prebate that ensures that basic necessities are tax free. This system would ensure that you keep your entire paycheck until you decide to spend it, whether that’s on food, or a car, or education for your children.

Question: In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72% of what their male counterparts earn?

Gary Johnson: Though the idea of equal pay for equal work is a laudable goal, it is hardly the place of the federal government to tell employers and women how to interact with each other. In many industries, when adjusted for education and experience, women have achieved pay parity with men. And that is a great accomplishment. However, adding an extra level of government regulation will likely have unintended consequences, such as higher unemployment for women, rather than actually addressing discrimination when it occurs.

Question: Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter, because I’m disappointed with the lack of progress I’ve seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of America’s economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration. Since both [Romney] and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should [he] win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?

Gary Johnson: Unlike President Bush and my opponents, I believe that we must defend all types of liberty. Civil liberties, just like economic freedom, are essential to our nation. We must end the assault on privacy exemplified by the Patriot Act, while also respecting individual personal beliefs on issues such as marriage and abortion. I also differ greatly from my opponents in my opposition to cronyism and foreign interventionism. I support ending the drug war and focusing on treatment instead of incarceration. I truly support limited government in all aspects of people’s lives.

Question: What do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards that are currently living here as productive members of society?

Gary Johnson: As part of a wider reform effort, illegal immigrants who are productive members of American society should be granted a two-year grace period to obtain work visas. However, unlike amnesty that fails to address the underlying problems that result in illegal immigration, I propose that we streamline the process for legal immigration. We need to make it easier to obtain a work visa, while requiring applicants to pass a background check and then receive a social security card. In addition, we can help address border security concerns by not only knowing who is coming here, but also through legalizing marijuana. This would help reduce border violence and drug trafficking that can help spur illegal immigration.

Question: We were sitting around, talking about Libya, and we were reading and became aware of reports that the State Department refused extra security for our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the attacks that killed four Americans. Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?

Gary Johnson: Both of my opponents have discussed how the events in Libya are troubling. I think they are especially troubling because of their implications for the effectiveness of current American foreign policy. Our military and diplomatic resources have been stretched too thin after over a decade of war in Afghanistan and the continued presence of American troops in areas such as the former Soviet Union. We seem to have lost sight of our mission of protecting U.S. citizens and interests, and unfortunately, our delegation in Benghazi paid the price.

Question: President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?

Gary Johnson: Banning certain categories of firearms or otherwise restricting our constitutional right to own them will not make us safer. Giving up our hard-won freedoms in the guise of safety will hardly make us safer or more free. Instead, we must affirm that the Second Amendment is an individual right and that gun rights are just as important to liberty as are freedom of speech and religion.

Question: The outsourcing of American jobs overseas has taken a toll on our economy. What plans do you have to put back and keep jobs here in the United States?

Gary Johnson: Outsourcing is not the cause of our economic ills here in the U.S. Rather it is a side effect of government intervention in the economy, unpredictable regulations, and burdensome corporate taxes. In order to encourage job growth, we don’t need to promote or protect certain industries that happen to have good lobbyists or deep pockets. Instead we need to lower taxes, reject further bailouts, and eliminate senseless barriers to free trade and legal immigration. Let individual businesses choose where to buy their inputs and let consumers choose what products to buy rather than trying to pick economic winners.

Question: What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate? Using specific examples, can you take this opportunity to debunk that misperception and set us straight?

Gary Johnson: I think the biggest misperception that the American people have about me is that, as a third party candidate, I can only act a spoiler in the election. This idea that I’ll only “take away” votes from Governor Romney or President Obama. Quite to the contrary, I represent another option to the two party system that has so miserably failed the American people. Though I may not win the election, a vote for me is not a wasted vote. It is a principled vote. It is a vote that tells the Democrats and the Republicans that you care more about the issues than scare tactics. It is a message that there needs to be some substance to the campaigns rather than just smoke and mirrors. It is a message that you will not be bullied into choosing someone you don’t support simply because you’re more afraid of the “other guy.” Let’s stop voting for the lesser of two evils. Let’s choose principle over party and restore America now.