GOP candidates attend forum

Published 12:25 pm Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Forum attendees applaud at the conclusion of the candidate forum.

The three candidates, who are running for the Republican nomination in the U.S. House District 2 race, attended a forum in Bainbridge on Monday night at the Decatur County Administration Building.

The Bainbridge Tea Party sponsored the forum, which asked questions of U.S. House candidates Rick Allen, Ken DeLoach and John House. These three will be on the ballot in the July 31 primary, with the winner advancing to face incumbent Democrat Sanford Bishop in the November general election.

Each candidate was given the chance to answer questions from moderator Berry Penhallegon, with topics including taxes, foreign policy and social issues. Each of the three was also asked why he would be able to defeat Bishop in the general election.

One of the first questions asked the candidates for their opinion on the proposed 1-cent additional sales tax for transportation. This “TSPLOST” referendum will also be on the July 31 ballot, and all three candidates opposed it.

“I don’t want to sign up for any new tax,” said House, a retired U.S. Army colonel from Columbus, Ga.

“As a citizen of our state, I would vote a strong no,” said Allen, a small business owner from Columbus. “We pay enough taxes as it is.”

DeLoach, a teacher and pastor from Macon, Ga., said he is also opposed to the TSPLOST because it does not allow individual counties to opt out. Even if a county votes against the tax, it can still pass in that county’s overall region.

“We’ll be spending money on projects that may, or may not work,” he said. “I’m opposed to it.”

A later question asked the candidates which priorities are the most important in this election. Allen said the growing debt and unemployment rate concern him. DeLoach said his first priority is bringing more jobs to the 2nd District, and House said his No. 1 priority is national security.

“If we don’t protect our country, then none of the other issues will matter,” House said.

The candidates were asked about their opinion on the “Obamacare” health insurance reforms, and especially the individual mandate that would require all citizens to purchase health insurance.

“The individual mandate is taking away our rights,” DeLoach said. “It’s a dangerous slippery slope to socialism.”

Allen said he is fully opposed to Obamacare, because it is a “socialist takeover of one-sixth of our economy.”

House said he felt health care and health insurance do need to be reformed, but he feels President Barack Obama’s plan is not the answer.

“I believe there are reforms needed in health care, but they need to be incremental,” he said.

Later questions tested the candidates on several topics important to the Tea Party and other far-right conservatives. All three were asked which federal agencies they would like to see eliminated or scaled back.

House said he would get rid of the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency. Allen also called for the elimination of the Department of Education, as well as the Department of Energy, National Endowment for the Arts, No Child Left Behind, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

DeLoach said he would scale back the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. Both the Department of Homeland Security and TSA were established under the administration of Republican president George W. Bush.

“I have faith in our armed services to protect us,” DeLoach said. “I never thought we should have established the Department of Homeland Security.”

The candidates were also asked for their opinions about Agenda 21, an action plan developed by the United Nations in 1992, which deals with questions about how humans affect the environment. Critics of the Agenda say it would eventually establish a one-world government.

“I’m very opposed to Agenda 21,” Allen said. “It’s a fancy name for a one-world socialist takeover of our U.S. freedoms.”

“My main concern is that [Agenda 21] is unconstitutional,” DeLoach said. “That treaty was never voted on by the U.S. Congress.”

House said he is concerned because Agenda 21 was passed years ago with little fanfare, but its suggestions are just now starting to take hold.

“We don’t need the UN’s ideals, which often run counter to the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “It’s been a quiet, slow build, which is part of why it’s so scary.”