Gary Johnson on the Deficit and DebtGLENN THRUSH: Okay. In the couple of minutes we have left, let's talk a little bit about foreign policy. Tell me if I'm getting my numbers right. A while ago you proposed, I believe in 2012, a 43 percent across-the-board cut in federal discretionary spending.
GARY JOHNSON: Which had to do with balancing the federal budget.
THRUSH: Do you…
JOHNSON: At that time it was 43 cents out of every dollar that we were borrowing, printing money. Today that number is 20 percent, so today that's the target number, is 20 percent.
THRUSH: Okay. Well, let me just throw that out. Then don't you give Obama some credit for having cut the deficit down a bit, Obama and the Republican Congress that did some of these budget cuts?
JOHNSON: Well, not really. I mean, cutting the--it is a factor--it's a factor of reduced government spending, it's a factor of economic growth, and we've had government grow, though. So, no, he hasn't contributed to the equation like he--like I thought I heard him say, going back all the way to 2008. I mean, he said all the right things. He said that the deficit really is horrible and that we need to reduce it when the reality is--like I say, he's--he has control over one segment of that equation, and in that segment that he has control over, or some--much control over--government spending--he's--it hasn't happened.
THRUSH: And discretionary is becoming a tinier what people don't realize, and as a governor you knew it, but even back then it wasn't this way. On the federal level and even to a greater extent on the local level, discretionary is getting smaller and smaller and smaller, being crowded out by pensions and entitlements, right?
JOHNSON: And another great untold story is, okay, no legislation passes whatsoever, you're the executive. You get to run federal government. So don't discount the power that lies to achieve smaller government if you've got somebody in the Oval Office that's bent on making that happen.
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ALICIA MENENDEZ: Gary, we’re gonna start with you this time. How would you go about tackling the deficit?
GARY JOHNSON: Well, I think I’m the only presidential candidate that’s running that’s promising to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013. That would be a $1.4 trillion reduction in federal spending now, and that would start with Medicaid, Medicare – that would start with military spending. I think the biggest threat to our military is the fact that we’re borrowing and printing money to the tune of 43 cents out of every dollar that we spent. So talking about military spending for a second, let’s take military spending back to 2003 spending levels.
Let’s start with the premise we should provide this country with a strong national defense – but the operative word here is defense. Not offense, not nation building. We have to stop our military interventions that I think result in hundreds of millions of enemies to this country that we would not otherwise have. I find it amazing that the two main parties are arguing over who’s gonna spend more money on Medicare, when we have to slash Medicare spending. I think everybody in this country recognizes it, that if we don’t, we’re going to experience a monetary collapse. And a monetary collapse is the result of borrowing and spending money to the tune of 43 cents out of every dollar that we spent. I take exemption, ah, exception to what Romney has to say with regard to borrowing money from China. We’re printing this money! We’re printing this money! The treasury’s printing it, the Federal Reserve (muffled)…
5 October, 2012: Third Party Debate On The Economy, HuffPost Live community
HUGH HEWITT: […] You said 44% reduction…
GARY JOHNSON: 43% reduction, yes.
HEWITT: What’s that mean in terms of aircraft carriers – we’re going for half, or four out of ten. Or what’s it really mean? Where does that come from?
JOHNSON: Well, it means getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and as Governor of New Mexico, something that I relish as Governor of New Mexico was this whole notion of getting immersed in the beans. I mean, what is the money getting spent on? I don’t know of anyone in this country who thinks we should have 100,000 troops on the ground in Europe. In Japan, we have 30,000 troops on the ground and the Prime Minister of Japan, the last election, ran on getting the United States out of Japan and that was from a friendly standpoint. We don’t need the help anymore from the United States. And he ran on that notion and yet, we’re still there and he resigned as Prime Minister of Japan.
HEWITT: But in terms of specifics of the 44% cut, you can’t get there from just getting rid of the Iraq, even if people agree with that. What, would you reduce the arms services by 44%? Would you reduce the number of wings on the Air Force by 44%?
JOHNSON: Well, getting back to Lean Six Sigma, getting back to the notion of analyzing all of this, which is something I relish. I relished the job as governor. I thought it was blood-boiling to actually immerse myself in bringing about a solution to statements that I had made. And in this case, I’m committed to that number. I will say that I’m completely opposed to foreign aid. The notion that we’re borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar, and we’re giving it away to foreign countries. Something a calculation I did on the back of my napkin. The interest that we’re paying China right now, on the amount of money they loaned us, pays for their defense spending for a year. If that doesn’t get to you…
HEWITT: Look Governor, I’m not getting it, so I’ll try one more time. 43%, where did the number come from and how do you think you’d get there?
JOHNSON: Well, so when you talk about aircraft carriers, it’s my understanding that when it comes to aircraft carriers that it’s kind of an outmoded technology. That we can fly anywhere in the world right now to accomplish our missions, that would be from the United States. That submarines are really the future, that submarines are really the deterrent. So why do we have, and I just posed this question rhetorically, I think that this whole thing needs to come under the microscope. I think it’s important to have military alliances with other countries from the standpoint of other countries sharing in the cost military defense as opposed to us picking up the tab. All these vaunted… all these vaunted infrastructure projects, transportation projects in Europe, healthcare in Europe. We’ve underwritten that because they haven’t had to pick up the tab when it comes to defense. So opposed to foreign aid, but military alliances is very key to this notion of being able to eliminate or reduce our spending by that amount of money. We’re spending more money on defense than all the other countries in the world combined, and we’re 5% of the world’s population.
HEWITT: So I understand, but you would mop all the carriers?
JOHNSON: I would not be so, I would not naïve, or I would not be, I’m not going to misspeak here by saying that’s what I’m gonna do. What I am saying, and I hope you would see it based on my resume, is that I would be committed to this 43% reduction because, look, you, I watch on the screen there from the beginning. Politicians talk about balancing the budget in 20 or 30 years. That’s not balancing the budget. I’m gonna submit a balanced budget for the year 2013. The reality is, is that it might actually get done after a certain amount of time. But that’s the president you would elect with me. And if you’re gonna elect a president that’s gonna balance the budget in ten years or fifteen years or twenty years, because that’s the realistic thing to do, then we’re not gonna address this at all.
18 June, 2011: Gary Johnson speaking at the Strong America Now Deficit Free America Summit at the Polk County Convention Complex in Des Moines, Iowa