Libertarian Gary Johnson Says Congress Evil for Spending Money We Don’t Have

Gary Johnson
I don’t write this stuff. I just find it on the Internet.

Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson won’t be at the South Dakota Libertarian Convention here in Aberdeen Saturday afternoon, but he did at least give the Libertarians some press with a front-page phone interview with the the local paper today. Johnson, who lived in Aberdeen from age 6 to 13 before his folks took him to Albuquerque, says his growing-up time in the Midwest “immeasurably” influenced his political views… but the AAN article doesn’t really explain that influence.

Johnson does say “the root of all evil is Congress” and disavows any desire to run for House or Senate:

…[W]hen it comes to that job, being a congressperson, man or woman or even the U.S. Senate, I think that you get judged by how much bacon you bring home, and that’s the reason why we have a $20 trillion debt. Congress spends money that isn’t there, and I don’t want to be a part of it [Gary Johnson, in Katherine Grandstrand, “Ex-Aberdeen Resident Gary Johnson Happy to Be ‘Middle’ Presidential Candidate,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.07.28].

Yes, because being the President who signs that bacon and debt means you aren’t at all a part of that evil. Right.

65 Responses to Libertarian Gary Johnson Says Congress Evil for Spending Money We Don’t Have

  1. We all know he won’t be able to singlehandedly bring about balanced budgets as President, but he does have a point about congress being in the pork business. Just look how our own Republican congress members give lip service to balancing the budget and cutting pork – but only other states’ pork. They are first in line for the farm welfare, and the disaster welfare for people who built houses in flood plains or chose not to buy insurance for their businesses. Heck, the Noem/Arnold family business business model is based entirely on milking the federal government for profit (farm subsidies, federally subsidized crop insurance sales, highly paid service in congress).

    I believe that Gary Johnson is more sincere than our GOP party congress persons about cutting the budget. But he should be a little more forthcoming about what is actually possible to deliver. We haven’t had a balanced budget since … Clinton.

  2. mike from iowa

    When pols are more concerned with re-election than making America move forward, you get dysfunctional gubmints.

    I remember Freshmen tea bagger congressweasels skipped orientation because they were out campaigning for re-election cash before they were seated.

    I’m not gonna feel Johnson’s johnson or any one else’s for that matter.

  3. Wayne Pauli

    I have no issue with Johnson, or his Johnson, but his barber sucks. He needs Hilary’s stylist, she looked amazing last night.

  4. Don Coyote

    @Rorschah: “We haven’t had a balanced budget since … Clinton.”

    Except Clinton never balanced the budget. Clinton claimed a surplus of $69B in1998, $123B in 1999 and $230B in FY2000 so the national debt should have decreased by a similar amount. Yet Treasury records show that in every year of the Clinton Presidency the national debt increased. The deficit in 2000 was only $17.9B, a huge improvement over 1999’s $130B and 2001’s $133B yet the national debt still increased.

    So why? As is typical in Washington, the dark art of smoke and mirrors was employed. Since the economy was booming and a lot of people were working, Social Security revenues were greater than expenditures. By law surplus Social Security revenues are invested in intra-governmental bonds which increased the overall national debt. However because of the increase in the government lending to itself, the public debt dropped because there was less of a need for the government to sell bonds to the public. I guess if you only look at one portion of the national debt you could make the claim there was a budget surplus, but that is not a standard and acceptable bookkeeping practice in the business world

  5. “I’m not gonna feel Johnson’s johnson or any one else’s for that matter.”

    That might just be the best line of this entire political season.

  6. Why settle on the left nut or the right nut when you can get the Johnson?

    Thanks, folks. Tip your waitresses.

  7. mike from iowa

    HRC doesn’t have to stop her jet and scrape strange roadkill off the windshield for the Donald’s next “do”

    Seriously you’d think he would have a feathered headdress. No offense meant to any Native American tribes or eagles for that matter.

  8. Don Coyote

    @owen: Craig Steiner, on whose website I found the data in my original post, explains why the CBO numbers don’t jibe with the US Treasury numbers.

    “Another common response to the above explanation of the myth of the Clinton surplus is that the budget surpluses are based on the numbers produced by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Indeed if you access the CBO’s “historic budget data” document , on the first page you will see that 1998 shows a surplus of $69 billion, 1999 shows $126 billion, 2000 shows $236 billion–the same surpluses claimed by Clinton and CNN in the article mentioned at the top of this page.

    However, further analysis of the document should make it very clear that important information is missing from the CBO document–specifically focusing on the last two columns of the table on page 1. If you take the $3,772.3 billion debt held by the public at the end of 1997 and subtract the “total” $69.3 billion surplus stated for 1998, you would expect to see the debt go down by 69.3 billion to $3,703 billion. Instead, the debt indicated for 1998 is $3,721.1 billion–suggesting a surplus of only $51.2 billion. This alone should tell you that the CBO numbers aren’t telling the whole story because they don’t add up–and the story they aren’t telling is intragovernmental holdings.”

    “During the Clinton years, the total national debt increased every year. Only in Washington D.C. would that somehow be considered a “surplus.” ”

    Read it all here:

  9. mike from iowa

    Craig Steiner is a partisan wingnut.

  10. Gary Johnson, John Thune, Little Mikey and all the rest of the dwarves are correct. Why try to fix a problem before there is an outbreak? Oops,looks like we now have confirmed Zika in Miami. So how could it get here? Believe it or not, we have a lot of tourists from Florida and we have a lot more with the rally. Call them and say that just because they have half a brain, that should not be the norm for all… Unless they are now thinking of future republican base voters.

  11. I saw a study once showing that between the year 1930 and 2000 the average deficit under Democrat Presidents was $43 billion, and $141 billion under Republican Presidents. This is in regards to the value of the dollar in the year 2000.

    Democrats put a lock box on social security while Republicans traditionally rob it blind. Democrats balance the budget while Republicans wrecklessly spend tax payer dollars. Conservative voters are hoodwinked by their leadership and conveniently forget about how “it’s the economy stupid” and how GWB’s >$1 trillion war wasn’t even part of his enormous budget deficits (it was “emergency supplemental spending” every single year of W’s Admin). Republicans don’t care about spending nearly as much as they jump up and down waving their arms – it’s all just for show – no substance.

  12. owen reitzel

    Don I’ll have to agree with mfi on this. Craig Steiner is a right wing hack.
    I guess I’ll trust the CBO figures over this guy. Sorry

  13. Richard Schriever

    Borrowing for budgeted projects, vs., taxing for them is a congressional decision. It isn’t so much spending money we don’t have, as it is, assuring that middle-men (bond-traders, banks, the wealthy) have a source of income instead of paying taxes.

  14. Darin Larson

    There will be no happy ending with Johnson. Let’s keep all Johnsons out of the White House and elect Hillary.

  15. Richard, with that logic, conservatives are wrong to think that a President has anything to do with the budget. In essence, you’re saying when a Republican presidential candidate talks about how they will be extra fiscally responsible they’re just blowing smoke up their voters’ ass.

  16. I think I was trying to argue with Craig Steiner more than Richard so much on this one; sorry about that.

  17. Richard Schriever

    No problem Adam – and you are correct in regard to Presidential budgets.

  18. barry freed

    Johnson has my Constitution loving vote.

    The most honest Democrat in the USA:

  19. As Ror notes, Johnson as a former governor is more qualified for the Presidency than the Republican nominee. In terms of job qualifications, I’d rank them Clinton, Johnson, Stein, Castle, dead fish in Ravine Lake in Huron, and Trump.

  20. Coyote again misses the point: President Bill Clinton oversaw better fiscal performance than any modern Republican President. More importantly for this moment, Hillary Clinton’s plans are far more fiscally responsible than Donald Trump’s.

    Hmmm… has anyone scored Johnson’s fiscal impact? Under Johnson, New Mexico’s budget grew 7.3% a year, and New Mexico’s debt grew from $1.8B to $4.6B.

  21. Barry, I respect your vote for Johnson and invite you to bring ten friends to do the same. Anything that helps humiliate Trump by losing South Dakota is welcome.

  22. The real problem with Johnson and Stein is that they are liars. Why don’t they just come out and say the vote they steal from you, takes one away from Clinton? Nader did the same thing, and look what e got.

  23. Jerry, I still have to resist the “stealing votes” language. Stein and Johnson aren’t stealing votes, because those votes are not the property of any other candidate. The other candidates are failing to earn those votes.

    Of course, can we say that Johnson and Stein are legitimately earning their votes, or are they just convenient alternatives for not-Trump/not-Clinton voters?

  24. Ben Cerwinske

    Cory: “Anything that helps humiliate Trump by losing South Dakota is welcome.”

    We’re an extremely red state. Many dissatisfied Republicans aren’t going to vote for Clinton (even progressives are having trouble supporting her). If dissatisfied Republicans, Clinton voters, Stein voters, and Independents unite behind Johnson we could deny Trump SD.

  25. Ben Cerwinske

    Cory, did you just offer your provisional support for Johnson in SD?!

  26. By stealing, I mean false advertising with promises they cannot possibly keep. They are the both sides do it so the theft is that they know that to be a false narrative. Maybe you are correct, stealing votes should be changed to the theft of votes. Whatever the case may be, the fact is that both have as much chance as a dead horse. They do this to screw Democrats just like Nader did. Ther theft can also muddy the downticket as well.

  27. Ben Cerwinske

    “promises they cannot possibly keep”: When has that ever stopped a politician?

    “they both have as much chance as a dead horse”: Trump and Sanders supporters are glad they didn’t listen to such naysaying…

  28. Stein as well as Johnson, know full well that the only way to change the way we govern is to change the congress. We need that right here as well.

  29. bearcreekbat

    Ben, you make an interesting point, but I wonder if Nader supporters were glad that they didn’t listen to naysayers in 2000? While I realize some have argued otherwise, the numbers tell us that if 600 more of the over 97,000 Florida Nader voters had voted for Gore, rather than Bush, the results likely would have changed our course of history. And given the progressive platform that Nader voters supported it seems unlikely that more of them would have supported Bush than Gore.

    And if Hillary loses to Trump by a similar margin will Bernie supporters be glad they didn’t listen to naysayers?

    Or if Hillary beats Trump by a similar margin will Trump supporters be happy they didn’t choose a more rational Republican candidate rather than listen to naysayers?

  30. Ben Cerwinske

    bcb: I see where you’re coming from, but when do we break the two party cycle? It’s not that these two parties are simply dominate, but they actively suppress outside voices. This election provides a realistic chance to change that.

  31. mike from iowa

    Voting 3rd party this election and installing Drumpf in the WH means the end of the USA as we know it-or worse. This isn’t a game to be played. Drumpf is the absolute worst disaster because he knows nothing of how government works, he doesn’t play well with others and his only concerns are his own welfare.

    Allowing this stupid son of a bitch to get within sniffing distance of nukular codes will spell the end of the world. Go ahead and vote your conscience. It isn’t like the future of the world depends on it, or anything.

  32. mike from iowa

    Whiny Drumpf says HRC and Dems scheduled Potus debates same time as two NFL games. This guy is way beyond stupid and insecure.

  33. bearcreekbat

    Ben, I appreciate and admire your optimism. Nader has the opposite opinion for 2016, and given the limited media coverage for Johnson or Stein and their lack of funds to buy the needed time, a positive voter outcome doesn’t look particularly likely for either one, especially if Nader is correct in his analysis.

    Ann Tornberg seems to believe that Hillary could win SD over Trump. She too might be just a bit optimistic, but in a small state like ours if the outcome is close then a third party vote could take just enough votes away from Hillary to put Trump over the top, depending on how our independents vote.

    But the one and only thing I think I have ever agreed with Ted Cruz on is that each of us should think it through and vote our conscience. If that means 3rd party, then that should be our vote. But if our conscience says stop Trump, then we should vote for the only candidate with a realistic shot and that is Hillary.

  34. bearcreekbat

    Incidentally, stopping Trump seems the most likely means of creating a third party by splitting Republicans into two camps. That is exactly what happened to the great Whig party in 1852, which led to the formation of a third party – the Republicans – in 1854. And if the Republicans split a natural offshoot would be Gary Johnson’s Libertarians.

  35. Ben Cerwinske

    “end of the USA as we know it-or worse”: Despite its flaws, I believe our country is designed well enough to withstand a Trump presidency. I sympathize with, but don’t buy, these apocalyptic scenarios.

    “This isn’t a game to be played”: And yet the DNC and Clinton choose to play it. The DNC actively tried to prevent Sanders’ nomination. Clinton then makes Wasserman-Schultz an honorary chair of her campaign. It’s not the fault of Johnson and Stein supporters that the Clinton campaign lacks credibility.

  36. bearcreekbat

    Ben, I agree that our nation is strong enough to survive a Trump presidency. The question that concerns me is what will Trump do during his 4 years as president and how much internal and international damage will result.

    What’s your view – can a President Trump make a difference in our Country and our Country’s relationships with our allies or enemies, and if so what are your predictions? Who in your view will be hurt and who will benefit from a Trump presidency?

  37. Ben Cerwinske

    I don’t deny a Trump presidency will be the most harmful of the available choices. Exactly how the harm will play out, who knows. My view is electing Clinton would solve a short term problem. I believe her presidency will be devisive enough that it won’t solve the long-term problem. She’s divisive amongst those on the left. How much more divisive will she be with those on the right?

    Those on the left have exprsssed concern over the possibility that someone like Trump could come along who’s rhetoric is less appalling and therefore be more dangerous.

    I think of Brexit and how they had two choices. Had there been a third way for people to effectively express their frustration, a different outcome could have been acheived. Thankfulky, we have that third option here.

  38. mike from iowa

    Let’s hold our noses and vote for HRC and then we will never hopefully find out how bad Drumpf would have been.

    Wingnuts have divided this country since Bill C was Potus. It got really bad with the racist Obama haters and will be just as bad with the misogynist HRC haters.

    Dems can, however, move this country forward even dragging kncuckle-dragging wingnuts along for the ride. Wingnuts don’t want America to move forward. They want the America circa 1800″s.

  39. Ben Cerwinske

    “let’s hold our noses and vote for HRC”: If that’s how progressives feel, how are you going convince disaffected Republicans to vote for her?

    The best way for SD liberals to make a difference in the Electoral College is to rally behind Johnson.

  40. Roger Cornelius

    Bernie Sanders had the best opportunity to create a third party had he run as an Independent. Why didn’t he just do that?
    If Sanders ran as an Independent this whole campaign would have a completely different tone.

  41. So, why didn’t he Roger?

  42. bearcreekbat

    Ben, you observe that “My view is electing Clinton would solve a short term problem. I believe her presidency will be devisive enough that it won’t solve the long-term problem.” Please don’t overlook the most significant long term problem facing the next president.

    Scalia’s dead. Roberts, Alito, Kagan and Sotomayer are relatively young and should be around another 20 years or so. Thomas is 66 and apparently hates the job. Ginburg, Breyer, and Kennedy are in their 70’s and 80’s. The next President has to fill Scalia’s spot and will likely have to replace Ginsburg (83), Kennedy (80), and/or Breyer (78), and maybe even Thomas if he decides to quit.

    If Hillary appoints Justices she will keep the Court in the center, or on the opposite side of conservatives, for decades.

    If Trump makes the appointments according to his campaign promises, however, we will likely have a 7-2 hard right conservative majority that will have the power to undermine progressive legislation and move the Constitution so far to the right that progressives will be effectively shut out for decades to come – think about the 5-4 decision in Citizens’ United and the conservatives desire to over-rule Roe v. Wade, Lawrence v. Texas, Obergefell v. Hodges, and other socially progressive decisions. Heck, I would not even consider Brown v. Board of Education or the Miranda decision safe under a 7-2 conservative court with 3 or 4 Trump appointees.

    That is a long term problem that will be solved in the next four years. Perhaps that alone might be worth consideration in whether to support Hillary or a third party candidate.

  43. mike from iowa

    how are you going convince disaffected Republicans to vote for her?

    Not my job to get disaffected wingnuts to vote for HRC or anyone as long as they don’t vote for the orange colored pathological liar.

  44. Obama has been divisive, apparently and his 7 years have been the best thing this country has experienced, the right leader at the right time. the divisiveness came all from the obstructionist and birther right. had Hillary been prez these last two terms, likely no real different outcomes would have resulted. she might have replaced scalia by now and she might have been harder on wall street; I wouldn’t be surprised.

    dems are liberals. Hillary has a 40 track record as a liberal. divisiveness isn’t gonna come from the left. we are gonna get what we want. we’ll likely have the senate, the supreme court and the presidency. if you quit spreading your divisiveness fear from among we liberals, ben, we might get the house too. get out there and work for it.

    trump is dangerous of course, but the GOP, cast adrift in these stormy seas of mixed emotion, have every capability of stealing this election.

    Russia has an interest in this too and for cripes sakes, Putin just had an innocent full civilian (mostly Dutch victims) 737 shot out of the sky over Crimea nearly, almost as if he was aiming himself. his own fighter bomber from Syria was shot down over Turkey not long ago. these are very dangerous time.

    big vision, in this era of no privacy and everything sensitive is hackable, ben!

  45. Richard Schriever

    There’s already a “third party” in this country that HUGE influence. The non-voters.

  46. Richard Schriever

    ‘…..given the limited media coverage for Johnson or Stein and their lack of funds to buy the needed time…..”

    Speaking of campaign funds – Consider that Stein’s campaign has taken in around $1MM, and spent around $600k. Tell me what happens to unspent Federal campaign donations again? How many million $$ were left in the Janklow campaign account when he died? Who did that “belong to”?

    While you all keep you eye in the ever moving “shiny new issues” ball – me – I’m watching the old boring $$$.

  47. Ben Cerwinske

    Bcb: You make a good point and it’s one I’ve considered. Mosr people don’t know who Johnson is. I want that to change. Let him make his case and see how much support he gets. If it’s clearly not enough, then I would hope he drops out. I would then vote for Clinton. But I think a lot of you are underestimating how much support he can draw if given a reasonable chance.

  48. Ben, to be clear: it is unlikely that I will vote for Gary Johnson. If I intend to help Clinton win South Dakota, my first action is to vote where my Democratic vote should go, for Clinton. My voting for Johnson would decrease Clinton’s share.

    If I am expressing anything like “provisional support” for the Gary Johnson campaign in South Dakota, it goes like this:

    1. If someone says “I’m voting for Trump,” I’ll try to persuade them not to.
    2. If a conservative voter says, “I’m voting for Johnson,” I’ll say, “Well, that’s smarter than voting for Trump. I respect your principles.”
    3. If a liberal voter says, “I’m voting for Johnson,” I’ll ask why and see if I can demonstrate that voting for Clinton is more likely to achieve their liberal goals.
    4. If someone says, “I’m voting for Clinton,” I’ll say “Good enough” and move on to the next issue.

    But if I’m talking with District 3 voters, I will not exert myself harder on those conversations than I will on urging them to look down-ballot and vote for me.

  49. I appreciate Leslie’s response to Ben’s point about the potential divisiveness of Clinton II: the Republicans will stir as much division against Hillary Clinton as they have against Barack Obama, but that won’t stop her from being a far better President than the alternatives presented.

  50. bearcreekbat

    In today’s Salon Matthew Rosza writes that he was a Bernie supporter, and that Green candidate Jill Stein shares many more of his values than Hillary. He then identifies an argument against voting for Stein or writing in a vote for Sanders instead of voting for Hillary that he says he has never been able to refute:

    “Presidential elections aren’t just about principles; they’re about human lives.”

    After providing a substantial factual history of how our elections have affected human lives in the past, he identifies and compares the policy goals of Hillary and Trump and how implementation of these polices would affect human lives. He concludes:

    “Elections are about more than conflicting ideals; they are about the hundreds of millions of lives both here and abroad that will be shaped by who happens to occupy the Oval Office. Based on the facts of what Clinton and Trump would do in office, I cannot in good conscience vote against the interests of the people Clinton would help… or, for that matter, disregard the lives of the people Trump would hurt.”

    His article is short but extremely compelling if you care about human lives.

  51. mike from iowa

    Drumpf says you can write this down- Putin will not invade Ukraine.

    Probably because he already has. And of course it is Obama and Clinton’s fault that Putin invaded a country Drumpf says he isn’t going to invade.

  52. bearcreekbat

    Ronald W. Dixon published an essay that raises serious issues about the libertarian party and Gary Johnson, especially in Republican controlled states like South Dakota. It addresses Johnson’s position on states rights and asserts that while Johnson argues for so many values that progressives support there is another side to the coin that should scare the hell of of people in Republican states like SD.

    Dixon alleges that the libertarian position, and that would include Johnson as a libertarian, apparently opposes any action by the federal government on liberty issues like abortion, marijuana, gay marriage, discrimination, etc, which seems on the surface to be a great position. But if Dixon is right, Johnson has no problem with state lawmakers enacting pernicious legislation on any of these topics under the mantle of states rights.

    Seriously SD libertarians, is Dixon accurately presenting the Johnson/libertarian position? If so, we South Dakotans should run away from Johnson and libertarians as fast as possible. By the way Dixon says he is a Jill Stein supporter.

  53. mike from iowa

    Forget Hair-drian’s wall. Sources say there are more Mexicans self deporting than are coming into America.

  54. “Liberty issues” – LOL

    EVERY issue, and law, is about some form of liberty; it’s just that some people think their issues have more to do Liberty than other peoples’.

  55. aww dude me n my [feigns illiteracy]

  56. Kris, do you and your buds ever get together over some beers, toast marshmallows, and talk about politics?

  57. Bearcreekbat, you raise a reasonable concern about Libertarian profession of states’ rights. Do they ever get past their national discourse and look at real states’ issues? Have the South Dakota Libertarians offered any grounded critique of the impact South Dakota corruption has on our liberty?

  58. Not a libertarian, but here is some background:

    -> In 2003 the libertarian Cato Institute and the libertarian Institute for Justice each submitted friend of the court briefs in the case of Lawrence v. Texas urging the Supreme Court to strike down that state’s odious ban on gay sex. In his majority opinion nullifying Texas’ Homosexual Conduct Law, Justice Anthony Kennedy repeatedly cited the arguments put forward in the Cato brief.

    -> In 2005 the aforementioned Institute for Justice brought the case of Kelo v. City of New London to the Supreme Court. At issue was an eminent domain land grab by local officials in New London, Connecticut. The libertarians who litigated the case (and thereby brought eminent domain abuse into the national spotlight) did so by urging the federal courts to force local officials to respect property rights.

    -> In the 2010 case of McDonald v. Chicago, libertarian lawyer Alan Gura convinced the Supreme Court to strike down Chicago’s draconian handgun ban because it violated the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as applied to the states via the 14th Amendment. Maybe not the best case to quote on this blog, but hey, there it is.

    So, to answer if they think state power is unassailable: not always.

  59. bearcreekbat

    Thanks Dicta. The libertarian website’s platform statement doesn’t appear to address state’s rights as a separate concern and does not assert that state’s rights trump individual liberties or federal constitutional protections. It appears that Dixon’s essay describing Johnson’s purported deference to states rights on abortion and on taking away the liberties of non-violent immigrants simply indicates that he is not as much as a libertarian as we thought.

  60. As always, people can argue damn near anything is consistent with anything, given enough time, passion and a pulpit with enough eyeballs on it. Gotta be a yooge pulpit. Not a small one, like little Marco. Sad!

  61. mike from iowa

    So, nobody’s perfect?

  62. Indeed, good citations, Dicta!

    States’ rights seems a compromise position for Libertarians. I would think that Libertarianism fully thought out would take individual liberty as the supreme value and reject any government encroachment, federal, state, or local. They might acknowledge that individuals can better control lower-level governments as a justification for a states’ rights position. But how would a Libertarian President respond to several states’ choosing to severely limit their residents’ liberties, through, say, absolute bans on abortion, marijuana, homosexuality, handguns, or Muslims, or perhaps by creating a state single-payer health care system and banning private insurance and private hospitals? Wouldn’t a Libertarian President be compelled to use federal power to protect individual liberty from state encroachment?