By Jerry Lynott
Candidates for president of the United States make numerous promises during their campaigns. Former Gov. Gary Johnson stops at three.
All three dealt with his plans to bring fiscal stability and responsibility to government spending.
The former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico has been running as a Libertarian candidate and said Friday he thinks he has a good shot at securing the party's nomination at its convention in Las Vegas in two weeks.
Johnson, 59, was in town for the Libertarian Party state convention and the Restoring Freedom program held Friday and today at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Public Square.
"I think we're dying for leadership," said Johnson during a break from a meet-and-greet session in the upstairs lobby of the center.
Johnson has been telling voters during his campaign, one in which he switched to Libertarian from Republican last December, he has the abilities to identify problems and their solutions and the resume to prove it.
He made a name for himself vetoing 750 bills as governor from 1995 to 2003. He's also competed in the Ironman Triathlon Championship in Hawaii, scaled Mount Everest and set a goal to climb the highest peak on every continent. The father of two grown children said he is engaged to be married.
But it's what he promised to do if elected president that's grabbing the attention of voters, he said.
"First I promise to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013," Johnson said.
The country cannot continue to spend money it does not have and go further into debt, he added.
If the United States does not reduce federal spending, he said, it will be in the same position as Greece's "160 percent of debt to (gross domestic product)," the sum of all goods and services produced within its borders.
Next on his list, he said, "I promise to veto any legislation where expenses exceed revenue."
Congress can override his veto, but it will be under public pressure to balance the budget, he said.
"Lastly, I promise to advocate on the part of throwing out the entire federal tax system," he said.
Under his proposal the income tax, corporate tax, tax withholding, the Internal Revenue Service all would be replaced with a consumption tax.
Federal spending still would have to be cut by $1.4 trillion because the tax is revenue neutral, he explained.
As a governor he worked with Democrats and Republicans and said voters want a president who can do so.
Johnson acknowledged he and Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas share the same group of fiscally conservative and socially tolerant supporters.
"I think that he and I for the most part are talking the same message," said Johnson.
But he doesn't see Paul taking the nomination from former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
The Restoring Freedoms will conclude Sunday with a bus trip to Philadelphia to hear Paul speak.
Johnson welcomed Paul's supporters as well as other Republicans and Democrats.
Historically, Democrats have been known for supporting civil liberties and the Republicans for balancing the checkbook, he said.
"I think the Libertarian Party takes the best from both Republicans and Democrats," said Johnson.