Today, voters in three of Georgia’s 12 congressional districts will return to the polls to vote in runoff elections that will determine their nominees for the U.S. House.
The winners of these runoffs will face their opponents in a general election whose theme — solidified last weekend by Mitt Romney’s choice of budget guru Paul Ryan to be his running-mate — will be how to fix the broken federal budget.
To understand how the debt crisis has already factored into this year’s races, consider what happened just two weeks ago in Texas. There, ascendant conservative star Ted Cruz won the Republican U.S. Senate primary runoff against his establishment-backed opponent David Dewhurst.
How did a little-known former state solicitor general rise from low single digits to defeat the sitting lieutenant governor and long-presumed favorite?
One reason is that he pledged to Reject the Debt.
A total of 19 federal candidates nationwide — six from Georgia — have pledged to voters that they would vote only for balanced budgets, not vote for new spending programs whose costs aren’t offset, and vote against increasing federal borrowing.
The Reject the Debt pledge is an effort by the Coalition to Reduce Spending to elevate the issue of the federal government’s severe spending problem. It gives voters a measure by which they can assess the seriousness of candidates who desire to set future fiscal policy.
Of the six Georgia candidates who took this pledge, three are still competing for a chance in the general election.
Rick Allen, vying to take on incumbent Rep. Sanford Bishop in the second district, claimed a plurality in July 31st primary. Meanwhile, in the ninth district, state Rep. Doug Collins and well-known Tea Party activist and media personality Martha Zoller will face each other in the upcoming runoff.
For years, politicians on the campaign trail have talked a big game about reducing government spending only to get to Washington and vote for increased deficit spending that we could not afford.
But as the selection of Paul Ryan and the nomination of Ted Cruz illustrate, the political winds are changing — and Allen, Collins, and Zoller show that Georgia is out in front.
Pledges such as Reject the Debt give candidates credibility on important issues, and also act to pressure the competition to step up to the plate. For example, just one day after it was announced in Texas that Ted Cruz pledged to Reject the Debt, David Dewhurst promised to do the same. To stay competitive in today’s political climate, he too had to pledge to tackle our unsustainable $16 trillion debt.
In Georgia today, Allen, Collins, and Zoller are showing true leadership by holding themselves accountable for their actions if elected. When candidates go on the record against overspending, voters now have a substantive way to judge their performance in office.
As it currently stands, every man, woman, and child in this country owes over $51,000 of the public debt. This isn’t just economically unsustainable, it’s morally reprehensible. More Americans are starting to realize that we passed the point of fiscal insanity long ago – and now we’re nearing the cliff.
Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz and candidates in Georgia are leading the charge to show that reducing spending is not only necessary, but politically popular as well. This November, the American public should hope every elected official follows their lead.
The Reject the Debt pledge can be found online at www.reducespending.org.