Former New Mexico governor and 2012 presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party Gary Johnson believes that the U.S. should cut a whopping 30 percent of its federal spending.
Johnson, a UNM alumnus, said in a speech in Woodward Hall on Monday that the government should cut or eliminate funding for dysfunctional sectors for a more efficient system. He said the country should be more mindful of its budget.
“Money for me has always represented one thing, which is freedom,” Johnson said. “The government doesn’t have the answers. The government ends up being more of a problem than of a solution.”
The event, which was part of Johnson’s Our America Initiative, was sponsored by The Federalist Society of UNM and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
Johnson said that instead of imposing income and corporate taxes, the government should implement a fixed 28 percent consumption tax on the entire nation. He said this will give people more control of their money, and it will be harder for people to avoid paying their taxes. He said he also would abolish the IRS, which he said gets unnecessary federal funding.
Johnson proposed that the federal government should have an annual audit of expenses to make sure that every dollar it spends goes to the right place.
Johnson said he wants to dissolve the departments of homeland security and of education because they are inefficient. He also said he wants to slash military funding.
“We need to stop with our military interventions,” he said. “That seems to be our answer for everything. We don’t have a department of defense; we have a department of offense. We’re killing innocent civilians in other countries and we’re wondering why the world doesn’t like us.”
Jim Gray, who ran for vice president alongside Johnson last year, also spoke at the event. Gray said the U.S. has about 1,000 military bases around the world, and that the federal government could eliminate 80 percent of them to operate more efficiently.
“I believed that if we put ground troops in Iraq, it will be the biggest mistake of our lifetime, and that is still my belief,” he said. “We have seen what has happened, and it has cost us about a trillion dollars to accomplish.”
Gray the government should also stop financing the War on Drugs.
“The War on Drugs is the biggest failed policy in the history of the United States of America, second only to slavery,” he said.
“We are churning low-level drug vendors through the system for no good reason. We’re taking their money and we’re ruining people’s lives.”
UNM student Dominique LaCour said she agrees with Johnson that the federal government should cut its spending. She said the U.S. should slash military spending, but the federal government should not eliminate the Department of Education.
“I know there’s a lot of useless stuff that the government spends money on,” she said. “But (the Department of Education is) really important. Our country does not have very good education compared to the rest of the world. Kids are not doing well in school now, and cutting it would just make it worse.”
Johnson said the country should uphold its citizens’ right to bear arms. He said teachers should be allowed to carry guns inside their classrooms to prevent active shooter violence in schools around the country.
“If there would have been guns on those airplanes, 9/11 would not have happened,” he said. “Contrary to what those movies are, when you shoot a hole on the side of an airplane, the whole airplane doesn’t get sucked out of the hole.”
Johnson also said he supports marriage equality and immigration reform.
“Mitt Romney said it’s a no-brainer to build a 14-foot fence along the border,” he said. “Based on that statement, I personally believe that Romney does not have one molecule of brain because a 14-foot fence takes a 16-foot ladder to get over.”
Gray said he is still trying to convince Johnson to run again during the next presidential election.
But Johnson said he is unsure whether he would want to run. He said that at the moment, he wants to prioritize his work as a political advocate.
“Right now, this is our America,” he said. “This is part of this process. It depends if there is interest.”