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Third-party presidential debate gives a voice to long-shot candidates

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But the candidates did open up some policy proposals sharply different from one another and from the two major-party presidential candidates.

Dr. Stein and Mr. Anderson called for free higher education for all Americans, with Stein pointing out the benefits from the original, post-World War II G.I. bill and Anderson arguing that other industrialized nations have already achieved such a system.

Johnson and Goode ridiculed the sentiment as ignoring the reality of America’s beleaguered fiscal condition.

“ ‘Free’ comes with a cost,” Johnson said. “ ‘Free’ is accumulating more to the $16 trillion in debt than we already have. ‘Free’ has gotten us to the point where we are going to have a monetary collapse.”

When asked to offer one constitutional amendment they would most like to see passed, the candidates again diverged. Anderson argued for a “new Equal Rights Amendment” enshrining protection from discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation.

Johnson and Goode said they would push for term limits for Congress – something they say would keep members focused on achievement instead of political longevity.

Stein said that even with term limits, “corporations and big money can still buy what they want.” Hence, her preferred amendment would upend the US Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling authorizing limitless campaign spending by corporations and individuals.

Other notable offerings unmentioned by the two major-party candidates included:

  • Stein, a physician, promised a “New Green Deal” of 25 million jobs in fields like sustainable energy and mass transit and bailing out American student loan debt.
  • Anderson, a former two-time Democratic mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, said the major candidates had all but ignored two significant issues: America’s poor, with poverty at its highest level since 1965, and climate change.
  • Goode, a former six-term congressman from Virginia, argued for a “near-complete moratorium” on new immigration to the US until unemployment fell under 5 percent.
  • Johnson, a former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, vowed to not bomb Iran and to repeal the Patriot Act.
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