After reading in The New York Times that 26 percent of young voters support Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum compiled a list of Johnson’s positions on matters young voters seem to care about.

Combining “various pieces of evidence,” “reasonable assumptions” and “a bit of arithmetic,” Drum reckons “that somewhere around a fifth of young liberal voters” — a group likely to vote for Bernie Sanders — if given the opportunity would be “casting their lot with Johnson.”

“In one sense, this is easy to understand,” he reasons. ”Johnson favors legalization of marijuana. He’s good on civil liberties and wants to cut way back on overseas military interventions. He’s moderate on immigration. He’s pro-choice and supports gay rights. There are plenty of things for Bernie supporters to like about him.”

But “Johnson is a libertarian,” he adds. Drum then lists recorded positions Johnson either holds or has held on nearly 20 key issues.

* He supports TPP. * He supports fracking. * He opposes any federal policies that would make college more affordable or reduce student debt. In fact, he wants to abolish student loans entirely. * He thinks Citizens United is great. * He doesn’t want to raise the minimum wage. At all. * He favors a balanced-budget amendment and has previously suggested that he would slash federal spending 43 percent in order to balance the budget. This would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare and social welfare programs of all kinds. * He opposes net neutrality. * He wants to increase the Social Security retirement age to 75 and he’s open to privatization. * He opposes any kind of national health care and wants to repeal Obamacare. * He opposes practically all forms of gun control. * He opposes any kind of paid maternity or medical leave. * He supported the Keystone XL pipeline. * He opposes any government action to address climate change. * He wants to cut the corporate tax rate to zero. * He appears to believe that we should reduce financial regulation. All we need to do is allow big banks to fail and everything will be OK. * He wants to remove the Fed’s mandate to maximize employment and has spoken favorably of returning to the gold standard. * He wants to block-grant Medicare and turn it over to the states. * He wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax, the payroll tax, and the estate tax. He would replace it with a 28 percent FairTax that exempts the poor. This is equivalent to a 39 percent sales tax, and it would almost certainly represent a large tax cut for the rich.

Also of paramount interest to young voters, elsewhere at Mother Jones, site manager Jeremy Schulman posted a clip from 2011 (viewable above) in which Johnson told attendees of a National Press Club luncheon that climate change, though real and “man-caused,” “is completely inconsequential to the money that we would end up spending.”

“Should we take the long-term view when it comes to global warming?” Johnson asked. “I think that we should, and the long-term view is that in billions of years the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right? So global warming is in our future.”

Schulman writes that “Johnson’s 2011 comments weren’t an aberration”:

Over the past few years, he has spoken out repeatedly against environmental regulation. In a 2011 NPR interview, he instead called for a “free-market approach” to reducing carbon emissions, arguing that consumer demand for cleaner energy, coupled with cheap natural gas, was causing a shift away from coal. He made the same argument during a Libertarian presidential candidate debate in May 2012. “If government gets involved” in fighting climate change, he said, “we are going to be spending trillions of dollars and have no effect whatsoever on the desired outcome.”

During his 2012 campaign, Johnson called for cutting federal spending by 43 percent. In one interview, he noted that this would also mean a 43 percent reduction in the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget. (During that same interview, he repeated his statement about the sun eventually destroying the planet: “Long-term consequence of our existence in the whole scheme of things is the sun is getting closer to the Earth and that at a point in the very distant future, the sun will actually encompass the Earth. So global warming is something that’s going to be inevitable.”)

In July, during the current election season, Johnson briefly flirted with the idea of a carbon tax after answering “No,” in an appearance on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” to the question of whether he had a “comprehensive plan to combat climate change.”

But then Johnson’s stance changed dramatically. In an August interview with the Los Angeles Times, he announced he was “open” to the idea of the federal government imposing a revenue-neutral tax on carbon emissions. Economists have long viewed a carbon tax as the most efficient way of putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit warming—many see it as preferable to the complex cap-and-trade proposal backed by President Barack Obama during his first term. In a subsequent interview on CNBC, Johnson called a carbon tax a “very libertarian proposal” under which “the market will take care of” climate change. (During the Democratic primaries, Bernie Sanders endorsed a carbon tax; Clinton did not.)

Many Libertarians and conservatives were outraged by Johnson’s sudden embrace of a carbon tax. “It’s Official: Gary Johnson Is a Left-Wing Candidate,” declared the Federalist, a conservative publication. After plenty of public criticism from the right, Johnson changed his mind, telling supporters at a New Hampshire rally that after considering a carbon tax, “I have determined that, you know what, it’s a great theory, but I don’t think it can work, and I’ve worked my way through that.” His flip-flop drew loud applause from the crowd.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

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