WASHINGTON – Republican 2012 presidential candidate Gary Johnson believes the House Republican blueprint to replace Medicare with a subsidies system should cut even deeper, and he isn’t shy about saying so.

"As president I would sign the plan into law, because it does move forward on the issue," the former governor of New Mexico told Raw Story in an interview. "But I think it doesn’t go far enough."

So, what would Johnson do?

He would do to Medicare what the House-passed plan by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) does to Medicaid: turn the program into block grants for states. His plan would cut Medicare by 43 percent and eliminate "all the mandates," leaving it to states to set up their own health plans.

The Ryan plan, which all but four House Republicans voted for, would phase out the single-payer program and replace it with a voucher system for seniors to buy private insurance. The value of the vouchers would diminish over time.

"I hate to use the word cut, because somehow that implies hardship," Johnson said. "But I believe there would be best practices that emerge that would allow us to do that and still live within our means.”

Beyond that, the ex-governor argued that desperate times call for desperate measures: "I'm in the camp that believes we’re on the verge of a financial collapse, because there’s just no repaying 14 trillion dollars in debt with a $1.65 trillion dollar deficit going forward."

"So if the Paul Ryan Medicare plan is the best that comes out of Congress, yes, I would sign that," he said. "But could Congress do better? Yes, and that’s what I would advocate."

The majority of Americans, including Republican voters, oppose Medicare cuts, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Edited by Stephen C. Webster.