Former New Mexico Governor supports fair tax

Whitney Cyr 

Managing Executive Editor


Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson visited the KSC campus to speak about his stances on defining issues in his political campaign. He met a small group of people, both students and faculty, in the Madison Street Lounge on Tuesday, where he began talking about his entrepreneurial experience in New Mexico.

“I think this separates me from the other candidates,” he explained. Johnson said he started a one-man handyman business in college, and a year later his company boasted a thousand employees. In 1999, he sold the business and it continues to flourish, according to Johnson.

“I’ve only ran for two political offices in my life,” he said. “One was for the governor of New Mexico, and a second for re-election.” Johnson said he thinks he has distinguished himself from other candidates because he vetoed 750 bills as governor of New Mexico.

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“We don’t need more laws, we just need to enforce the ones we have,” he said.

Johnson began talking about some of the platforms he is supporting. “I’m known nationally for supporting the legalization of marijuana,” he said. “I think we should treat it like alcohol, and we should control it and tax it.”

The biggest aspect of his political campaign Johnson wanted to get across was his support of a fair tax, which would replace the federal income tax system. Fair tax, Johnson explained, is revenue neutral. “This is something we can do now, and it’s the reboot the American economy needs,” Johnson said. Also, Johnson said the fair tax would ensure no one avoids taxes, explaining some corporations manage to evade paying them. “The more money you make, the more fair tax you pay,” Johnson said.

On the issue of immigration, Johnson said building a fence or putting the National Guard near the border doesn’t solve any problems. Johnson suggested giving all illegal immigrants a grace period in which to get documented. “They should get a worker visa, and they would need a social security card. They would have to pay fair tax too,” he said. “This is a country based on immigration. We seem to forget we’re all immigrants.” Johnson emphasized the fact that the workers coming from Mexico are “the cream of the crop,” he said.

According to Johnson, the legalization of marijuana would stop 75 percent of the violence on the border, citing the alarmingly high statistic (around 35,000 to 45,000)  of people who have died as a result of drug cartel violence in Mexico. Johnson said he believes if marijuana is legalized, some of these problems on the border would disappear.

Johnson also made some assurances as far as improving the economy. “If I were elected president, I’m promising to submit a balanced budget to Congress in 2013. I can’t imagine they’ll allow it,” he said.  “But I’ll veto it, and they’ll have to override it.” What the economy is facing now, according to Johnson, is a “monetary collapse,” when the money a country has saved becomes worthless.

Speaking about the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, Johnson spoke about his opinions on each. “I was against Iraq from the very start. We have enough surveillance in other countries to know if they were actually rolling out weapons of mass destruction,” he said. His opinion about Afghanistan, however, was different, as he stated that the country deserved to be attacked because Al-Qaida attacked the U.S. Johnson also explained how we were dragged into Libya “just like we dragged France and Britain into Iraq,” he said. “I don’t think we should be involved in Libya.”

Johnson also said he distinguishes himself from other Republican candidates running for president. “I’m not a social conservative, and I think most of the other candidates are social conservatives,” he said. “I think Americans are overwhelmingly not socially conservative.” Johnson said there was no question that global warming is actually happening, and he supports gay marriage.

Additionally, Johnson spoke of his exclusion from the NH debate by CNN because he had one percent in the poll. Three weeks ago, however, he moved up to two percent in the polls. “That would’ve put me on the stage, beating two other candidates and tying another,” he said. To combat this setback, Johnson said he is actively trying to speak with the people of NH because historically, they have been very receptively to speaking and interacting with political candidates.

When asked what message Johnson would like to send to KSC students, Johnson said he hopes students think he’s an honest guy. “I also doggedly pursue the goals I set out for myself,” he said.

Micki Herrington, a worker at the library, enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the governor and presidential candidate. “As a Republican, it’s refreshing to see a candidate who isn’t socially conservative,” she said. “I think it’s important to research every candidate to see what you would want in office.”

Program Coordinator of Academic Affairs, Kim Schmidl-Gagne, works with the American Democracy program on campus, and she said she is working to get as many presidential candidates to the campus as possible. “We’re also working with student organizations to make this happen,” she said. Johnson was the first one of the year she said, and another, Buddy Romer will be coming to the campus next Thursday.

“It’s not about Democratic or Republican candidates,” she said, “It’s about getting engaged with the government.” Schmidl-Gagne said having candidates come to campus is a very unique opportunity. “Real change happens all around us.”

In addition, she said she was impressed with the informed questions both students and faculty were asking Johnson at the meet and greet. “Everyone was very informed, which is a great thing,” she said.

Schmidl-Gagne expressed the importance of students being able to connect with presidential candidates because it is an active way to be involved in the process of democracy and government.  “You can make changes in public policy,” she said.


Whitney Cyr can be contacted


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