It seems like everyone is trying to go further right these days. Governor Scott Walker is busting up unions in Wisconsin. Republican House Members are marching towards a government shutdown. We even have a Democratic President openly flirting with social security and medicare reform. So conservatives feel that they have the momentum and they are hungry for more.
But something I’m not entirely clear on is what exactly do they want? Speaker John Boehner proposed $61 billion in spending cuts, but the Tea Partiers are demanding $100 billion. OK, they want more; I get that. Most Republicans are war supporters who won’t touch defense spending but the Ron Paul crowd wanted us out of Afghanistan yesterday. And freshman Tea Partiers helped vote down a fighter plane program last night, which is great. On social issues, Republican legislators are obsessed with restricting abortion, while Barbara Bush and Betty McCain are cutting pro-gay marriage acts. Will the real Republican priorities please stand up?
CPAC was a place where all these strange and sometimes warring Republicans sat together, and yet no Republican grabbed the mantle. Look at the fascinating results of the Presidential Straw Poll, where Mitt Romney is the backup choice to Ron Paul. Paul-Romney in 2012? Probably not. Then you have New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and he ties for third place with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. And Sarah Palin isn’t even on the board. Wait. Back up. Who’s Gary Johnson and how the hell did he finish third? He’s a libertarian or an old school conservative, whatever you want to call it. But he’s for gay rights and legalizing pot. and he beat out Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and even establishment heavyweight Newt Gingrich. How did he do it? He’s here, so let’s ask him. He’s also the honorary chairman of Our America Initiative. Not a lot of people outside of New Mexico know you, I’m just trying to keep it real.
>> totally real, yeah, yeah.
>> so how did you finish third?
>> as governor of new mexico, everything was a cost benefit analysis. everything. what are we spending our money on? as government 06 new mexico, i would like to think i was the most conservative governor in the country.
>> do you think pot had something to do with it? you’re for legalizing. you came out of nowhere.
>> the marijuana issue really falls on in the context of cost benefit. half of law enforcement, half the prisons, that’s what we’re spending, about $20 billion a year. what are we getting for that? well, we’re arresting 1.8 million people a year and we now have 2.3 million people behind bars. really, it needs go a through z. you’re just talking about m for marijuana. i think — i would like to think that what people respected about what i have done in new mexico and what i’m trying to bring to bear right now is just truth regarding all of these issues. i advocate balancing the federal budget tomorrow. that’s medicare, medicare, social security and defense. i would be wanting out of afghanistan yesterday. i would have been opposed to iraq from the beginning. i think that all the arguments that could get posed for the problems that we’d face getting out of afghanistan or iraq, we would have those same discussions 25 years from now, if that’s when we decide to have those discussions. legalization, you make a great point. we get drug wars, gang violence. it’s not like we wochb the war on drugs.
>> when it comes to medicare and medicare, the federal government could give states back to health care for the poor and those over 65. maybe 65 changes to a different age. but do away with the mandates. look, we’re all competitive. we’re all out for best prak phillips we would live within our means. i just think the biggest threat to our national security is the fact that we’re spending more money than what we’re taking in. and i’ve lived my entire life watching government take in more money than what it spends. i’ve just always thought that wouldn’t be sustainable. and i think that day of that unsustainability is here now.
>> we agree on that. let’s get to what we disagree on. it is it is is not a problem with the deficit at all.
>> no, it’s not. it is it is is based on making in more money than what you give out. we’re talking about a reform to social security.
>> what would that reform be?
>> one would be raising the retirement age.
>> that’s unacceptable. that’s a cut. if you retired at the age of 70 instead of 65, you miss out on $63,000 of retirement benefits. that’s a huge cut.
>> this is something that can be phased in. if we don’t address these issues, we’re going to be left by nothing. and by nothing, are we going to receive our social security checks? yeah, but they’re not going to buy anything because of the cash we’re printing to cover these obligations.
>> when you talk sense on saving money, i hear you. but social security is a $2.5 trillion surplus. it makes no sense to cut that.
>> we paid out more money –
>> there’s $2.5 trillion. that’s the good faith of the united states. when we say oh, the bond market would collapse if we didn’t pay china or saudi arabia. it’s also a huge problem if we don’t pay the people who paid into social security.
>> but we’ve been paying out social security. we’re going to have to print more money to pay out social security.
>> we have to pay our bills. social security is our bills. and it’s our bill not to saudi arabia. it’s our bill to the american people who paid into it.
>> and when social security was established, let’s see, nobody was going to even live to 65 when social security was established. so using that same correlation today, maybe it ought to be 80 years old.
>> that’s where you lose me.
>> when it was first established –
>> look, white collar workers live longer today, but that’s not necessarily true of blue collar workers. this idea of oh, my god, we’re living longer is not necessarily true.
>> statistically, we’re living to 79 years old as opposed to 62 years old.
>> since 1972, the upper brackets now living four years longer than the lower brackets in this country. so there’s a huge difference in how much — who’s actually living longer.
>> i think clearly everybody is living longer. that’s the average. what are we at today? 79 versus 62 when social security was established.
>> i would never agree to cut people who paid into it –
>> i’m not saying cut.
>> i’m just telling you, if you’re saying retire later, that’s a cut.
>> make the system final.
>> we agree on a lot of things, that’s good.
>> i got it. it’s a good conversation. i like it.
>> my problem is the guys who sell out to lobbyists, whether republicans or democrats.
>> government picking winners and losers. i’m going to the to be back on here, i can see that right now.
>> what if we go back to the clinton era tax rate. do you know what that could give us 1234$5 trillion over the next ten years. problem solved. i balanced the budget.
>> getting rid of impediments to entrepreneurs that would create more jobs in this country.
>> right, that’s what clinton did. do we agree?
>> both parties have done it.
>> bush didn’t do it. bush created about a million jobs and then immediately lost after he went out of office.
>> i’m in the camp that lower taxes create better economies.
>> but that’s not what history bears out.
>> thanks for having me on.