Anti-tax 'tea party' at Capitol draws 5,000
by Matthew Benson - Apr. 15, 2009 10:43 PM
The Arizona Republic
Frustration with big-business bailouts, stimulus spending and talk of tax increases bubbled over Wednesday as thousands of Arizonans and countless more nationwide gathered in protest at a series of "tea parties."
The Arizona Capitol played host to the state's largest such gathering, drawing a spirited but well-behaved crowd that numbered more than 5,000 at its largest, according to an estimate by representatives of the state Department of Public Safety. A similar event in Tucson hours earlier swelled to roughly 1,500, and about 1,000 met in Gilbert. All told, there were more than 18 tea parties across Arizona.
The events paid homage to the original, Revolutionary War-era Boston Tea Party. Put in historical parlance, Wednesday's message was: Don't tread on me. Protesters' frustration nationally was generally aimed at President Barack Obama and the Democratic-led Congress, with federal-stimulus spending of nearly $800 billion and Obama's budget totaling $3.5 trillion.
But Republicans, too, weren't spared criticism, with Gov. Jan Brewer proposing a $1 billion-per-year temporary tax hike to help balance the state budget.
"I'm sick of the spending. Somebody's gotta pay for it, and ultimately that's me," said Dave Eldredge, 43, of Buckeye. "I'm sick of it."
Attendees at the Capitol tea party waved flags and carried signs with slogans such as "Socialism is Slavery," "Stop the Beltway Pirates" and "Give Me Liberty, Not Debt."
The crowd sprawled across the lawn east of the House and Senate buildings, stretching across 17th Avenue to Wesley Bolin Plaza. A string of elected state officials, legislators, conservative talk-radio hosts and others addressed the assembled masses, but their message was frequently drowned out amid the crowd.
No matter, as these folks needed no one to do the talking for them.
"You can't fix the debt by taking on more debt," said Shanda Cross, who came to the Capitol from Gilbert with her four children, ages 5 to 11. "I don't think we need to raise taxes. We need to fix where the money is going."
Perhaps fitting, the Capitol tea party had the feel of an uprising at times. One sign warned, "Revolution is Brewing." "The Revolt Starts Now," read another.
But Gilbert resident Craig Coffman, 54, said the gathering was for regular people with legitimate concerns about a government that they believe is growing too big, too powerful.
"I'm not a radical," said Coffman, a music director who teaches piano classes. "I've never been to a protest in my life. I'm just shocked at what the government has done in the last three months."
Was it a pro-tax party? We want more taxes? Let me get this straight? Mayor Hugh Hallman of Tempe, which is the city with the highest tax rate in Arizona spoke at this alleged anti-tax party? Mayor Hugh Hallman is a tax and spend tyrannt!
I am certainly glad I didn't attend. Listening to either Mayor Hugh Hallman or that blowhard J.D. Hayworth would have been a total waste of time!
Thousands gather at state Capitol for ‘tea party’
By: Derek Quizon
Published On:Thursday, April 16, 2009
Thousands of self-proclaimed “tea-partiers” gathered in front of the state Capitol building on Wednesday evening to protest government spending policies they say are wasteful.
It was all part of a nationwide campaign of conservative protests known as “tea parties” — evoking imagery of the 1773 Boston Tea Party — organized by the activist group Americans for Prosperity.
“The taxpayer tea party is a call for the federal and state governments to stop the ridiculous taxing and spending [policies],” political science sophomore Jessica Bender said, citing the stimulus package passed in February as an example. Bender, an active member of the College Republicans, was one of many students from that ASU club in attendance.
The students were part of a crowd estimated by Tom Jenney, director of the Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity, to comprise 5,000 people. Arizona Capitol Police said they did not have an estimate of the turnout, but it was clearly very high.
An hour and a half before the event was scheduled to begin, hundreds of people had already gathered on the lawn in front of the state Senate building. By the scheduled start time of 5:30 p.m., the number of protestors had grown significantly, many holding signs that read “Separation of business and state,” “No public funding for private failure” and “Stop Tax Theft.”
Jenney said the turnout was result of the outrage of a quiet majority of Arizonans who have watched politicians on a state and national level pass reforms he said would hurt the country in the long term.
“We’ve gotten a lot of people off their couches and away from the Internet [to give] their message to the President, the state Legislature and the governor,” Jenney said. “No new taxes, no more bailouts and no more debt burdens on our grandchildren.”
Former District 5 Rep. J.D. Hayworth spoke to the crowd when taking breaks from covering the event for a local talk news radio station. Hayworth criticized the recent stimulus package, the bailouts for corporations and President Barack Obama’s relief plan for homeowners, all of which he said reward failure.
“[In America], you can make true your greatest dreams and ambitions,” he said. “But you have to realize one fundamental truth — you have to help yourself.”
Other speakers included State Rep. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu, and Mayor Hugh Hallman of Tempe, as well as a number of local conservative talk-radio personalities. Each drew tremendous response from the conservative crowd, which seemed eager to prove it could be just as vocal as the groups that have been protesting state budget cuts at the Capitol on an almost-daily basis.
Bender said the passionate debate has been spurred by tough economic times.
“America is in a very unhappy situation right now. Both sides are unhappy,” Bender said.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com.
New York CitySource
Tax Day Is Met With Tea Parties
By LIZ ROBBINS
Published: April 15, 2009
Some people wore their tea bags hanging from umbrellas or eyeglasses. Others simply tossed them on the White House lawn.
Wednesday’s deadline for filing income tax returns offered some Americans a timely excuse to vent their frustrations as demonstrators attended more than 750 Tax Day tea parties in cities like Boston, Washington, East Hampton, N.Y., and Yakima, Wash.
The events were meant to protest government spending, particularly the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package and its $3.5 trillion budget.
Although organizers insisted they had created a nonpartisan grass-roots movement, others argued that these parties were more of the Astroturf variety: an occasion largely created by the clamor of cable news and fueled by the financial and political support of current and former Republican leaders.
Fox News covered the events all day with reporters and hosts at the scenes. Neil Cavuto, a Fox host, and Michelle Malkin, a conservative contributor, headlined the protests in Sacramento while Sean Hannity broadcast his show from the protests in Atlanta.
The Web site TaxDayTeaParty.com listed its sponsors, including FreedomWorks, a group founded by Dick Armey, the former House majority leader; Top Conservatives on Twitter; and RFCRadio.com.
The idea for the demonstrations grew in part out of a blast from Rick Santelli, a CNBC commentator who on Feb. 19 at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange said that the Obama administration was promoting “bad behavior” in helping people who were at risk of losing their homes and that Americans should protest with a tea party in Chicago.
The clip inspired earlier protests in cities like Cincinnati, Green Bay, Wis., and Harrisburg, Pa.
The main goal as a national organization, said Eric Odom, the administrator of the Tax Day Tea Party Web site, “is just to facilitate an environment where a new movement would be born.”
It was hard to determine from the moderate turnout just how effective the parties would be. In Philadelphia, a rally in Center City drew about 200 rain-soaked participants.
Several hundred people showed up in Lafayette Park opposite the White House, until the park and parts of Pennsylvania Avenue were cleared while a robot retrieved what the Secret Service confirmed was a box of tea bags.
In Pensacola, Fla., about 500 protesters lined a busy street, some waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and carrying signs reading “Got Pork?” and “D.C.: District of Corruption.”
In Austin, Tex., Gov. Rick Perry energized a crowd of about 1,000 by accusing the Obama administration of restricting states’ rights and vaguely suggesting that Texas might want to secede from the union.
In downtown Houston, there were some in the crowd of 2,000 that poured into the Jesse H. Jones Plaza who also wanted Texas to secede. They were joined by other conservative groups like anti-abortion activists, Libertarians and fiscally conservative Republicans. American flags abounded, along with hand-painted placards that bore messages like “Abolish the I.R.S.,” “Less Government More Free Enterprise,” “We Miss Reagan” and “Honk if You Are Upset About Your Tax Dollars Being Spent on Illegal Aliens.”
Paul Sommer, 41, of Humble, Tex., said he came out because he feared the country was drifting toward socialism under President Obama. “I don’t agree with them taking my money,” he said. “I’m a small-business owner. I don’t want them taking everything.”
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah, a Republican, was booed in Salt Lake City for accepting about $1.5 billion in federal stimulus money, and in Alaska, hundreds of people held signs and chanted “No more spending,” The Associated Press reported.
Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, urged people in New York to tell their lawmakers “we’re going to fire you” unless they vote against big spending, The A.P. reported.
In Boston, the birthplace of the original tea party, the protest was on Boston Common, near the State House. The crowd, initially about 500, grew throughout the day.
“I’m not happy with the way our government is managing our taxes,” said Jo Ouimete, 54, of Northampton, Mass., who was holding an umbrella with an American flag pattern, even though the sun was shining. The umbrella had a tea pot on top and Red Rose tea bags hanging from it.
“The American taxpayers are really getting pressed too hard,” Ms. Ouimete said. “We can’t live like this, and our kids can’t live like this.”
Some participants were dressed in colonial garb, including Paul Jehle, of the Plymouth Rock Foundation, who is also a professional Boston tour guide. Mr. Jehle offered his enthusiastic audience a history lesson about the 1773 Boston Tea Party.
The only organization in Boston re-enacting the original tea party — a gay rights group — was not associated with the other demonstrations.
Its protest was that in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal, married same-sex couples cannot file joint federal tax returns.
Reporting was contributed by Bernie Becker from Washington, Robbie Brown from Atlanta, Jon Hurdle from Philadelphia, James C. McKinley Jr. from Houston, and Janie Lorber and Katie Zezima from Boston.
Los Angeles, CaliforniaSource
Republicans stage 'tea party' protests against Obama
Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times
Protesters gather at Glendale City Hall in one of many Tax Day tea parties..
By Michael Finnegan and Janet Hook
April 16, 2009
Reporting from Washington and Santa Ana --
Republicans sought to ignite a popular revolt against President Obama on Wednesday by staging "tea party" protests across the nation to demand lower taxes and less government spending -- but the tactic carried risk for the party.
With half a million or more jobs vanishing each month, many Americans are less concerned about how much Washington deducts from their paychecks than whether they will have a paycheck at all.
"Nothing is as pressing a concern as the economy," said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, adding that even among Republicans the political salience of taxes is not what it once was.
In California, where the Proposition 13 tax rebellion of 1978 sparked a national conservative resurgence, the rallies carried extra resonance, thanks to the nearly $13 billion in state tax hikes enacted in February.
But for Republicans nationally, the issue is whether their call for shrinking the federal government in the depths of a severe economic downturn makes them seem out of touch or tone-deaf to the harsh reality of the jobs crisis.
Gallup polls released this week found that 53% of Americans approve of the expansion of the U.S. government to help fix the economy, even if most of that group wants it scaled back once the crisis abates. And 48% think that the amount of federal income taxes they pay is "about right," a finding that shows anti-tax sentiment near a historic low for the last five decades.
Nonetheless, protesters gathered in cities across America to mark the April 15 tax filing deadline with rallies inspired by the Boston Tea Party and promoted by Fox News, conservative blogs and talk radio.
Among the top grievances were the hundreds of billions of dollars in recent taxpayer subsidies to automakers, banks and Wall Street investment giants.
"All these bailouts, it's just money that's never going to reach the common people," Dan Kipp, a 31-year-old stay-at-home father, said at a demonstration outside the Colorado Capitol in Denver.
Like scores of other protests, from Boston to San Diego, the one in Denver served as a forum for a broad range of attacks on Obama and fellow Democrats who control Congress. Demonstrators waved signs saying, "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for the American" and "Our Soldiers Didn't Fight and Die for Socialism."
The California rallies offered a fresh display of upheaval within the Republican Party over the new sales, income and other tax hikes approved by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature.
In Santa Ana, more than a thousand protesters cheered as speakers called for the Republican governor's recall.
"The guy's got to go," Allan Bartlett, a member of the Orange County Republican Central Committee, told the crowd gathered on a plaza outside the county courthouse.
To dramatize the anger of many conservatives, Colin Gomes of La Mirada brandished a plastic sword piercing a hollow rubber Schwarzenegger head.
"We need to punish him for what he's done," Gomes said shortly before the crowd joined in singing "America the Beautiful."
Gomes and others denounced the budget measures that Schwarzenegger is promoting in the May 19 statewide election, most forcefully Proposition 1A, which, in part, would extend the tax increases for two years.
Still, most of the anger at the California rallies was directed at Obama and the vast expansion of government that he has overseen as the economy has worsened.
Yet the president's high approval ratings for his handling of the economy suggest that most Americans accept his argument that a major increase in federal spending is needed to blunt the crisis.
Obama sought to inoculate himself by building modest tax cuts for most Americans into the stimulus bill, while saying that today's higher spending must give way to frugality and deficit reduction once the economy rebounds.
And so far, Obama seems to be controlling the debate.
"A lot of the discussion has been focused on government spending, but the voters are still focused on one number: the unemployment number," said David Winston, another prominent Republican pollster. "Any time you are not talking about jobs, you are talking about topic No. 2 for Americans. Republicans need to translate the tax and spending issue into jobs."
At least since the days of President Reagan, Republicans have thrived on the anti-spend, anti-tax message -- even if Republican presidents have presided over expansions of the federal deficit.
Today, however, the economic climate is worse than it has been in decades. In November, the country picked a do-more, spend-more presidential candidate over a do-less, tax-less opponent.
And though Republicans insist that Obama's budget will ultimately put upward pressure on taxes, for now Obama is cutting taxes.
But that fact carried little weight with the demonstrators.
"We're just Americans trying to get our voices heard -- about too much taxation and spending, the swelling size of government, the bailouts for big business," protester Robin Todd said at a rally outside the domed Capitol in Sacramento. "That's European-style socialism."
In Glendale, signs bobbing over a crowd of 250 outside City Hall proclaimed: "Taxed Enough Already" and "America, No Left Turn."
In Temecula, where hundreds gathered at a duck pond, a sign warned: "Back Away From My Wallet!" An elderly man wore a blue shirt with "No We Can't!" emblazoned on the back, a rebuttal to Obama's "Yes, We Can" slogan.
Sara Dotson, 17, dressed like an Indian for the occasion. The leader of a local Republican club for teenagers, she helped people hurl mock Styrofoam crates of tea into the pond.
"The sons of liberty dressed like Mohawks for the Boston Tea Party," she said. "That's why I'm wearing this."
Times staff writers Eric Bailey in Sacramento, Ari B. Bloomekatz in Glendale, Richard Cooper in Washington, Richard Fausset in Atlanta, David Kelly in Temecula, Nicholas Riccardi in Denver, Catherine Saillant in Ventura, and Michael Oneal in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.
Gilbert 'TEA party' draws more than 1,000
Blake Herzog, Tribune
April 15, 2009 - 5:36PM
Ralph Freso, Tribune
A "TEA party" held on the lawn of the Gilbert Municipal Center Wednesday outdrew the wildest expectations of organizers, as more than 1,000 people took part in one of a nationwide string of rallies against taxation and government spending held to coincide with the federal tax filing deadline.
"I don't even have a clue how many people came," said Jean Gerstner, who said she'd never been to a rally. She was handing out fliers to the crowd that plugged a Taxed Enough Already, or TEA, party Web site.
"It has to be over 1,000 people. It was a success beyond our wildest dreams."
Others guessed the turnout was even bigger. Speaker Dave Petersen's estimate put it at, at least 2,500; Bill Norton, whose crowd estimates for the annual Constitution Fair continue to come in higher than Gilbert police's, said it could be as high as 4,000.
Parked cars spilled out of a lot next to the lawn where the rally was held. They filled the public safety complex's lot across the street to the south, vacant lots to the east and a shopping center across Gilbert Road.
The Gilbert rally was one of several in the state, mostly in rural areas.
Many people carried signs calling on the government to reduce spending on everything from Planned Parenthood to the advocacy group ACORN. Most were fired up about federal spending on the economic stimulus and bailout packages.
Jennifer and Brian Gallamore of Ahwatukee Foothills got their point across by draping a sign over the back of their 11-year-old corgi mix, Pogo: "It's 'Ruff' economically. Stop the spread of government overspending."
Betty Butler of Gilbert was one of many people taking issue with the President Barack Obama.
"Mr. Obama wants socialism, in my opinion, and we can't have that because I am from South America. I lived through that," she said. "I don't want another Venezuela for my family. It's happening. It's coming."
The crowd didn't appear to include any counter-protesters who supported administration policies. One man did wave a large black-and-white Obama poster, but the caption underneath read "NOPE." A couple of people tried and failed to get a "Yes we can!" chant started.
Glen Gaddie, 53, of Mesa, said he had never been to a rally before and made his anti-overspending signs that morning. He said he felt the Bush administration spent too much money while in power, but the trend is "100 times worse" under Obama.
"For the first time in my life I can say that I am scared for my country," Gaddie said.
Many of the signs at the rally were stacked underneath a rock at the end of the gathering in an attempt to keep them from blowing away. They were being saved for Wednesday evening's planned TEA party at the state Capitol in Phoenix.
Tom Jenney, an organizer of the Phoenix rally, said last week he'd gotten 2,000 e-mails from people planning to attend.
The Gilbert rally had a scheduled slate of speakers including Petersen, a former town councilman, state legislators Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, and Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, and Town Council candidates Erin Scroggins and Jenn Daniels. Others were then able to get on their soapbox during an open-microphone period.
Petersen, who received 12 percent of the vote in the March mayoral primary for a fourth-place finish, ran on a platform of less government and lower taxes. He said he felt vindicated by the turnout Wednesday.
"It showed me I'm not one of the minority. I'm not thinking this stuff all by myself," he said.
Las Vegas, NevadaSource
Apr. 16, 2009
Tax day brings tempest at 'tea parties'
Protesters full of 'positive anger' at Nevada rallies
By CARRI GEER THEVENOT and ED VOGEL
Thousands of people, many waving hand-painted signs and American flags, held tax day "tea parties" Wednesday in Las Vegas and Carson City as part of a nationwide movement to protest what they consider excessive government spending.
At Sunset Park, an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 people gathered to hear speakers and express their views. Demonstrators along Eastern Avenue and Sunset Road attracted a stream of honks from passing traffic throughout the afternoon.
"There's a lot of anger, but there's a lot of positive anger," said Jack Landreth, program director for KXNT-AM, 840 radio. "There are people who want to be heard and make a difference, and this gave them the opportunity to do that."
The radio station promoted the event, which featured speeches from Herman Cain, a FOX News business commentator and host of a radio talk show in Atlanta, and Wayne Allyn Root, the 2008 Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee and a Las Vegas sports handicapper.
Although billed as a nonpartisan event, the messages from participants were largely anti-Obama, and Democrats were hard to find. Many protesters carried signs with the "tea party" slogan: Taxed Enough Already.
Las Vegas resident Jennean Scacco, a 55-year-old Republican, sat in a chair along Eastern Avenue holding a "Stop Spending" sign with a tea bag wrapper attached to it.
"I learned long ago that when you find yourself in a hole, you should stop digging," said Scacco, who works as a senior account technician for the city of Las Vegas. "Unfortunately, those we elected have not figured that out yet. They just think spending is going to get us out of this problem."
Scacco said she disagrees with those who say Americans should refuse to file income tax returns.
"I'm a law-abiding citizen, but I want them to use my tax money wisely," she said.
Las Vegas resident Ryan Kissling, 26, said he learned about the Sunset Park event through the social-networking Web site Facebook and decided to take the afternoon off from his job as a trade development manager at Monster Energy, a company that makes energy drinks.
Kissling, a Republican, stood along Eastern holding a sign that read, "Look 2 the Constitution Not Karl Marx."
"I'm tired of the government getting so big," he said.
Kissling said he was glad he decided to attend.
"It makes me have hope again," he said.
Mary and Tom Meyers, a married couple from Las Vegas, spent three hours demonstrating. They are both Republicans.
Mary Meyers, a 49-year-old cocktail server, carried a sign that read, "No: Socialism. No: Bailouts. Flat Tax!"
Her husband, a 45-year-old bartender, held a sign that read, "When is big government too much?"
"We want our message heard," Mary Meyers said. "We're afraid of the direction our country's going. We fear we're headed toward socialism."
Although the gathering was mostly peaceful, a heated exchange broke out between protesters and a passer-by who told them to "go home."
One protester shouted back, "Show us your green card."
"Green card?" said the man, who was a passenger in a vehicle. "I was born in America."
Protesters swore at the man as the vehicle drove away.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered for a smaller evening "tea party" at the main post office on Sunset Road. The post office was open until midnight to accommodate last-minute tax filers.
Las Vegas resident Elizabeth Broils, 30, was there with her 13-year-old daughter, Kristina, who wore a pilgrim costume, and her 8-year-old son, Joseph, who wore an Indian costume.
Broils said the costumes symbolize the time of America's forefathers and the revolution they began.
"If we have to start another revolution, these will be the kids to do it," she said.
In Carson City, an angry crowd of 2,000 demanded that legislators not increase taxes and condemned President Barack Obama's economic stimulus and spending plans in a protest outside the Legislative Building.
Legislative police and Carson City sheriff's deputies said the gathering was the largest they had seen in more than 30 years in the state capital.
"You are doing exactly what needs to be done on tax day," Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., told the crowd. He said Obama's spending plans have added $250,000 in debt for each of his four children.
Janine Hansen, a longtime lobbyist for the conservative, pro-family Nevada Eagle Forum, said she believes the sentiment of the protesters reflects current thinking of mainstream Americans.
While acknowledging that FOX News and local conservative talk show hosts had urged people to attend the protest, Hansen said people had to have strong objections to government to take time off work and drive to Carson City for a rally.
But few, if any, of the protesters wandered inside the Legislative Building after the three-hour demonstration to watch legislators who were voting on dozens of bills.
An older Carson City couple, Robert and Dwanna Dempsey, said too many people believe the government should give them cradle-to-grave support.
They said they were not just blaming Obama, but many politicians who over the years supported deficit spending.
"We need to clean out all the politicians," Dwanna Dempsey added. "They don't listen."
In response to the "tea party" gatherings, Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan released the following statement Wednesday:
"While we support the right of Americans to petition their government, what's clear is that the overwhelming majority of folks support President Obama's plan to get the economy back on track and provide 95 percent of working families with tax relief, because they are no longer going to accept 'more of the same' as an answer."
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135. Contact reporter Ed Vogel at email@example.com or 775-687-3901.
Quad-City residents come out for TEA
A half hour into a tax-deadline day protest Wednesday in downtown Davenport, most grievances of red state America with the federal government, Congress and President Barack Obama were clearly on display.
“There’s too much government, too much pork,” said Carron Schoor, a 50-plus-year-old woman from Davenport, who held a sign that read, “Too much pork, that’s our beef.” “We’re spending trillions and trillions. I would hate to be born today.”
Seventy-year-old Lowell Reyher of Davenport said he was there to protest what he called the corruption of the U.S. Constitution. He disputed any notion that it is a living document and said it should be interpreted as written.
“If people want to change it, there is a way to do that,” Reyher said.
The demonstration at the intersection of 4th and Main streets was part of National TEA Party Day, one of hundreds of protests organized around the country. The Davenport event was held within sight of the office of U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa. A second one was held later in the day near the Moline office of U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill.
Both rallies drew several hundred people, nearly all of whom carried signs voicing their grievances or American flags.
Seven-year-old Austin Cox, of Andover, Ill., was decked out in pirate garb at the Davenport protest and toted a sign that read, “Washington is full of pirates.”
But when asked by his father, Larry Cox, 35, if he remembered why he was there, the boy said, “I forgot.” Dad had no such problem. “This is about his future,” Larry Cox said.
Plenty of others knew exactly why they were there as they waved signs at passing traffic or marched around the intersection — with the traffic lights — shouting such slogans as “Put an end to tax and spend” or “Wake up America.”
“I don’t want to pay my neighbor’s mortgage,” said Nancy Goettsch, 57, of Long Grove, Iowa. “I have enough trouble paying my own. I would be working today instead of being here if my hours hadn’t been cut at my job.”
Davenport attorney Rand Wonio showed up with his federal and Iowa income tax returns neatly sealed in envelopes ready to be mailed to beat the filing deadline. Without disclosing amounts, he said he would be paying “a lot.”
“I knew if I came down here, I could get some sympathy,” Wonio said.
Many of the demonstrators carried signs decrying high federal taxes, pork-barrel spending and earmarks and economic stimulus initiatives that many claimed future generations will be paying off far into the future.
The demonstrations across the country came two days after a Gallup Poll claimed 48 percent of Americans think their taxes are “about right” while 46 percent said they are too high. That was one of the most positive assessments of taxation since 1956, Gallup said in a news release.
The Gallup results showed that a majority of those who identified themselves as Republican thought their taxes were too high, while a majority of Democrats said they were about right.
Braley spokesman Jeff Gertz said the Iowa congressman “respects the rights of every citizen to demonstrate and express their concerns with the way government works.” Small groups were invited into the office to voice concerns, and Braley plans to send personal letters to those with specific grievances.
Hare issued a statement in which he also said he respected the rights of citizens to air grievances but questioned why demonstrators remained quiet as federal deficits rose under the administration of President George W. Bush.
“To put it simply, our policies will provide tax relief to working families who desperately need it and ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share once again, all while protecting the economy,” Hare said. “This shift should be celebrated, not condemned.”
Tucson Tea Party: 'People of this country are the ones who run it'
By Brian J. Pedersen
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.15.2009
About 2,000 Tucsonans celebrated Tax Day by protesting how those tax dollars are being used by the federal government.
The Tucson Tea Party, part of a string of hundreds of protests held throughout the country Wednesday, served as a chance for citizens to voice their displeasure with the various bailout and stimulus plans generated by President Barack Obama’s administration.
“Congress and the President have forgotten that the people of this country are the ones who run it,” homemaker Mia Lind said. “I think we’re all going to be affected by this. It’s certainly going to affect the generations still to come.”
Lind, 28, brought a handful of signs voicing her views on bailouts, including one declaring that “My Piggy Bank is Not Your Pork Barrel.” She said she fears for what her 11-month-old son, Henry, and other children will face as adults.
“The debt they’re going to be born into, so to speak, is going to be huge,” Lind said. Wednesday’s event was held Downtown at El Presidio Park, 160 W. Alameda St. People began gathering around 7:30 a.m. to hear various speakers.
The event was expected to run into the early afternoon.
“It’s good to have a display like this,” said Rep. Vic Williams, a Republican who represents Legislative District 26. “This is a sign of a strong democracy. I encourage this.”
Williams was one of a handful of local politicians seen roaming the crowd, which was made up of families, college students and senior citizens.
“I just want to enjoy my retirement,” said Green Valley resident Elmer Hayes, 67. “I don’t want to have to worry.”
Tucson was chosen as a site for a Tea Party rally because “there’s a lot of free-thinking people here,” said Shaggy Shaughnessy, a musician and co-host — along with David Armadillo — of a local cable access show called The Shaggy Armadillo Show.
The duo stopped and talked to dozens of attendees, filming their comments for their next show, which Armadillo said is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Saturday on Access Tucson.
“There’s unity and hope that people can come together and fix this,” Shaughnessy said.
“We’re all united,” added Armadillo.
Unity was a theme running through the event, including at a merchandise stand operated by Peoria-based Web site Freedomstickers.com.
“We’re just trying to get the word out,” Patrick Scanlan said.
One of the booth’s top-selling items, Scanlan said, was a $3 bumper sticker stating “Unite or Die!” with the image of a snake broken up into 50 pieces. Also a big seller: a $2 postcard addressed to “our non-representing representatives.”
Thousands in Puget Sound region protest government spending Carrying signs that included "Don't leave your debt to me" and "My Piggy Bank is Not Your Pork Barrel," thousands of people gathered across the region on tax day Wednesday to lash out against government spending.
By Jennifer Sullivan, Nicole Tsong and Erik Lacitis
Seattle Times staff reporters
Carrying signs that included "Don't leave your debt to me" and "My Piggy Bank is Not Your Pork Barrel," thousands of people gathered across the region on tax day Wednesday to lash out against government spending.
In Olympia, where the largest of the Puget Sound-area demonstrations occurred, some 5,000 people spilled across the state Capitol steps. It was the largest rally on the Capitol campus in about five years, said State Patrol Sgt. Freddy Williams.
There were several protests in the Seattle area. The largest, at downtown Seattle's Westlake Plaza, brought out 1,000 to 1,200 protesters.
The protests were part of the national Tax Day Tea Party demonstrations at statehouses and town squares across the country. The "tea" in this case stood for "taxed enough already."
While organizers billed the gatherings as nonpartisan, protesters across Western Washington appeared to share the same disapproving view of federal spending and President Obama.
They also took aim at state lawmakers who've been talking about higher sales taxes or an income tax aimed at the wealthy to help balance the state budget.
In Olympia, state Sen. Janéa Holmquist, R-Moses Lake, was greeted with cheers and whistles when she said Democratic lawmakers' response to the sour economy has been "a sudden lurch toward socialism."
"They want us to hold our noses and take a little bit of socialism like a child taking a bitter pill," Holmquist said. "You can get pregnant with a little socialism, and sooner or later you're going to give birth to a full-blown Marxist."
The Evergreen Freedom Foundation sponsored the Olympia rally, which featured Holmquist, state Auditor Brian Sonntag, initiative king Tim Eyman and a handful of other speakers.
The foundation, an Olympia-based conservative think tank, had told the State Patrol it expected 500 people to attend. About 10 times that many showed up.
The State Patrol's Williams said there were no arrests at the event, which started soon after many participants marched over from Olympia City Hall.
Janice Gammill, of Graham, Pierce County, said she attended because "I'm worried about the direction our country is going."
Gammill wore a necklace fashioned out of tea bags — peppermint and green tea "for the greenies," she said.
Jim Gill, of Bremerton, who came with a co-worker, said he wants to "send a message to the government that we're tired of them wasting our tax money."
Many of the same sentiments could be heard at demonstrations in downtown Seattle, Bellevue and Seattle's Lake City neighborhood.
Keli Carender was among the speakers at Seattle's Westlake Plaza. The 29-year-old adult-basic-education teacher was also an organizer of the early-evening protest.
"Personally, my message from me to all the lawmakers, nationwide and statewide, is, 'Repeal the pork or retire,' " she told a reporter. She addressed the crowd wearing a blue Little Bo Peep sort of outfit with above-the-knee white stockings, and called herself "Liberty Belle."
Keric McKenna is a research analyst who lives in Seattle's Wedgwood neighborhood.
"I think the legacy of taxation will be a crippling burden," said McKenna, 27. "There is very little slack in the system. There is just enough water left in the towel to wrench a few more drops."
About 20 Seattle police bicycle officers watched from the side, chatting among themselves because there was nothing else to do. About 45 minutes into the protest, many of the cops were gone.
Earlier, under sunny skies in Bellevue, more than 200 people, some dressed in suits, streamed toward a grassy park adjacent to City Hall for a lunchtime rally.
They hoisted handmade signs with slogans such as "Can we bankrupt the country? Yes we can," and "Obama-Reid-Pelosi: The Axis of Taxes" (referring to the president, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi), and they waved American flags.
One woman chained to her ankle an inflated gold ball with "Gov't" written on the side.
Mary Wilson, 44, of Auburn, said she is frustrated by government spending.
"If you don't come out, you can't really complain about the way things are," she said.
Heather Renner, 57, of Renton, said she opposes Obama's efforts to have the government help banks out of the financial crisis and believes the president is moving the country away from capitalism.
"Let free enterprise and capitalism take its course and not bail everyone out," she said. "I know he thinks he's right but I believe that he's wrong and going to get us in deeper trouble. We'll find out in the next couple of years."
At a small protest in Lake City, retired bartender Liz Monta, of Ballard, said she was upset with bank bailouts, "nationalizing health care and Obama's socialist agenda."
Jennifer Sullivan: 360-236-8267 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thousands in Oregon protest taxes and bailouts, tea party-style
by Janie Har, The Oregonian
Wednesday April 15, 2009, 2:39 PM
SALEM --An estimated 3,000 people crowded the state Capitol steps and more than 1,000 gathered in downtown Portland on tax day to protest corporate bailouts, government spending, saddling debt and, of course, taxes.
The anti-tax demonstrations were among 20 scattered throughout Oregon and hundreds across the nation modeled after the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Protesters dressed in colonial garb in Boston and carried pitchforks in Connecticut.
In Oregon, protesters served a warning to majority Democrats eyeing tax increases to plug the state budget, said Russ Walker, Oregon director of FreedomWorks and vice chairman of the state Republican Party.
Opponents of higher taxes, he said, would gather signatures to send any legislative surcharge to the ballot.
"This is the shot across the bow," Walker said.
The tea parties were hailed as a grass-roots uprising by their organizers, which included FreedomWorks, a Washington D.C.-based group headed by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey.
Democrats, however, dismissed the grass-roots nature of the rally as AstroTurf. As an alternative, the state Democratic Party urged people to donate toiletries and food to the Oregon Food Bank on Wednesday.
Democrats have proposed tax increases on beer and cigarettes, as well as higher fees on drivers and an increase in the $10 minimum tax paid by corporations. But House Majority Leader Mary Nolan, D-Portland, said most Oregonians realize they need to pay for decent schools, good roads and health services.
"There are thousands of Oregonians who are feeling the crunch of this economy, and they don't have the time to come to Salem to rant and rave," she said.
Walker said 3,200 people at the Salem event signed sheets to stay in touch. Signs and banners urged an end to a hodgepodge of items, including abortions, illegal immigration and bailouts. Others suggested drug testing of all elected officials. One small girl requested, in handmade print, that Congress please stop using her as an ATM.
At Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, more than 1,000 protesters carried similar signs that read "Don't tread on me" and heard similar anti-tax speeches at an evening rally that included a march to the Willamette River in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party.
Stuart Tomlinson/The Oregonian
Tax protesters fill Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland on Wednesday evening. At the Capitol, Rob Farrell, 56, an out-of-work truck driver from Salem, said excessive government spending and borrowing this year spurred the large turnout.
"I'm tired of the Republicans and the Democrats spending away our country and trashing it, trying to turn it into a socialist country," he said.
Republican lawmakers rallied the crowd. House Minority Leader Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg, railed against a list of tax and fee increases proposed by Democrats.
"We're going to make dying more expensive in Oregon because we're going to make death certificates more expensive in Oregon," he said.
Added Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day: "You know they love poor folks because they're trying to make more of us!"
Nolan, the Democratic House majority leader, said Republicans have yet to propose specific services attached to specific ways to pay for those services.
"That's kind of good theater," she said. "But it's not good government."
But none of that was flying with Kristina Ribali, 35, a Salem resident who owns lawn care and advertising companies with her husband.
"We're tired of paying for people's poor choices. Our business and our family is on a budget," she said. "Government needs to be so also."
-- Staff writer Stuart Tomlinson of The Oregonian contributed to this report.
-- Janie Har; email@example.com
Tens of thousands rally at tax day 'tea parties'
By Shannon Mccaffrey
Posted: 04/15/2009 09:35:14 PM PDT
ATLANTA — Whipped up by conservative commentators and bloggers, tens of thousands of protesters — including about 1,000 in San Jose — staged "tea parties" around the country Wednesday to tap into the collective angst stirred up by a bad economy, government spending and bailouts.
The rallies were directed at President Barack Obama's new administration on a symbolic day: the deadline to file income taxes. Protesters even threw what appeared to be a box of tea bags toward the White House, causing a brief lockdown at the compound.
Shouts rang out from Kentucky, which just passed tax increases on cigarettes and alcohol, to Salt Lake City, where many in the crowd booed Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman for accepting about $1.5 billion in stimulus money. Even in Alaska, where there is no statewide income tax or sales tax, hundreds of people held signs and chanted "No more spending."
In San Jose on Wednesday afternoon, more than 1,000 protesters met at Plaza de Cesar Chavez downtown, many of them carrying signs denouncing taxes and chanting "We are taxed enough already.''
"What our government is doing is outrageous. All these new little taxes are making it harder for people to take care of their everyday needs,'' said Beverly Selzer, 50, of Los Gatos, who carried a bright day-glow green sign that said, "Party like it's 1773. Don't stimulate. Liberate.''
Peg Rucker, a 72-year-old retiree from Santa Clara, held a sign that read, "I voted for a president, not a king.''
"We think it is time to stop the spending and the bailout,'' she said. "I don't want my grandchildren to be taxed to death.''
But the protest turned tense when a competing group of about 40 people began circling the tax protesters, banging drums, shouting epithets, screaming about immigrant rights and promoting anarchy. At one point, the smaller group stormed the stage of the tax protesters, and more than a dozen San Jose riot police separated the groups. Meanwhile, dozens more officers stood guard on mounted patrol, in police cars and on foot to maintain peace. No arrests were made.
Earlier in the day, only one Taxed Enough Already participant, Dave Forsgren, showed up at a noon rally at San Jose City Hall.
"This is a little disappointing," he said.
Even so, he cheerfully explained his support for the Tea Party movement.
"A grass-roots movement has to start somewhere,'' said the 51-year-old registered Republican.
In Boston, a few hundred protesters gathered on Boston Common — a short distance from the original Tea Party of 1773 — some dressed in Revolutionary garb and carrying signs that said "Barney Frank, Bernie Madoff: And the Difference Is?"
Texas Gov. Rick Perry fired up a tea party at Austin City Hall with his stance against the federal government, as some in his U.S. flag-waving audience shouted, "Secede!"
The tea parties were promoted by FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group in Washington led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, now a lobbyist.
Organizers said the movement developed organically through online social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and through exposure on Fox News.
While FreedomWorks insisted the rallies were nonpartisan, they have been seized on by many prominent Republicans who view them as a promising way for the party to reclaim its momentum.
Thousands turn out for tax protest at Capitol
By AARON GOULD SHEININ, KENT A. MILES
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Thousands of tax protesters streamed Wednesday to state government’s front lawn, creating a sign-waving, anthem-shouting mass as darkness fell.
“We stand here tonight seeing clearly what has been done and what we must do,” state Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger), said.
Graves quoted a favorite of the crowd, the late former President Ronald Reagan, who warned “a government is never more dangerous than when our desire to have it help us … blinds us to how it can harm us.”
The Atlanta rally was one of 20 around the state and more than 300 around the country. Billed as grass-roots protests, critics — especially Democrats — have labeled the gatherings as frauds created by Republican advocacy groups with the backing of deep-pocketed lobbyists and Fox News.
An expected counterprotest at the Capitol never seemed to materialize. Five state troopers stood watch along a stretch of Courtland Street where the counterprotest was expected.
Meanwhile, at the Capitol itself, protesters — who model themselves after the Revolutionary-era Boston Tea Party — decried a federal government they say has lost touch.
Speaker after speaker complained about the bailouts of banks, automakers, mortgage lenders and anyone they deemed responsible for the current economic crisis. Fox News erected a massive set where conservative personality Sean Hannity planned to broadcast live.
Former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) spoke. His organization, Freedom Works, is a primary organizer of many of the tea parties around the nation. Armey’s group, along with conservative groups Americans for Prosperity and American Solutions for Winning the Future, founded by former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), helped organize the events. Gingrich was scheduled to speak at the New York City tea party. American Solutions president and CEO Dave Ryan spoke here.
Armey planned to address the concerns critics have raised over who was in charge of the events.
“I plan to tell everybody they need to make it clear it’s their gathering,” Armey said before the rally, as he stood at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Courtland Street. “It’s not organized by big shots in Washington.”
And there were plenty of non-big shots in the crowd.
Amber Anneshensley and her brother, Michael Obetz, both 15 and from Suwanee, held signs to support the cause. Michael’s said, “Honk if we pay your mortgage.”
Their mother, Paula Lanier, said she brought her children to the rally to “teach them to speak up for what they believe in.”
“I don’t like how government is spending my money, raising my taxes to give it to people who let their own businesses fail.”
Jason Pye of Covington, the legislative director for the Georgia Libertarian Party, had mixed emotions about the rally. He and his fellow Libertarians have long supported the ideals exhorted Wednesday: less government, free markets and a Darwinian-approach to private business.
Many of those speaking, he said, haven’t always protected those ideals.
“I’m happy people are getting together,” he said. “But the movement has been co-opted by Republicans who are trying to regain their identity and want to forget George W. Bush existed. Libertarians aren’t forgetting.”
Earlier Wednesday at a tea party in Marietta, Ty Hunter was among a festive rally crowd of several hundred at the Marietta Square.
“When I was a boy, things were so much simpler. Government was not so much a part of our life, now it’s in every thing we do,” Hunter said. “It’s like we’re losing our liberty.”
Mingling with the crowd were people in Revolutionary War-era costumes. At the start, “Paul Revere” rode in to the square on his horse to warn the people of outrageous taxation.
Beth Pollard of Smyrna came to the rally wearing a hat adorned with tea bags.
“It’s my first time expressing my feelings about what is happening in Washington,” Pollard said. “I’m glad to live in a country where freedom is appreciated.”
In Atlanta, local conservative pundit and author Phil Kent warned the crowd to be wary.
“Throughout history, oppressors have tried to control people,” he said. That control, he said, has come from limiting free speech and the right to self-defense and through “servitude with high taxes.”
“We can’t have that happen here!” he said, to applause.
St. Louisans join nationwide tax protests
By Greg Jonsson and Bill Lambrecht
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
St. Louis — Thousands of people packed Kiener Plaza downtown on Tax Day to vent their ire at President Barack Obama and other leaders and to show their concern about the nation's future.
They joined thousands more across the country who took to public places for "tea parties" to protest what they see as pork in the nation's budget, an unfair tax burden on working Americans, deficit spending and government bailouts they say will fall to our children to repay.
"I came for them," said Allison Domsch of Maryland Heights, referring to her children, ages 6, 2 and 6 months, whom she brought to the protest. "I would never dream of leaving my kids with debt I'd have to pay off after I'm gone."
While protests on tax-filing day are nothing new, the tea party protests Wednesday at more than 700 locations around the country far exceeded past gatherings for two main reasons: the mobilizing power of the Internet and the efforts of conservative groups seeking pathways back to power.
What would have been hard to predict months or even weeks ago was the anger expressed not over taxes, but over spending.
The $787 billion stimulus legislation and other eye-popping numbers in congressional spending bills triggered protests in Seattle and Mesa, Ariz., in mid-February. On Feb. 19, CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, speaking at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, challenged people to protest government policies with a tea party in Chicago.
After the clip of Santelli went viral, new protests followed, among them a gathering in St. Louis on Feb. 27. More than 400 people turned out, some tossing loose tea into the swirling Mississippi River.
Grover Norquist, a veteran conservative activist and president of Americans for Tax Reform, has led many Tax Day protests over two decades. But none unfolded like this, he said. He took part in a boisterous, rain-soaked gathering in front of the White House Wednesday afternoon that was cut short by the Secret Service after a protester tossed a box over the White House fence.
In an interview afterward, Norquist said that what was most surprising to him was the intensity of concern over spending and debt that has not yet occurred. The only tax increase people have seen under Obama is the tobacco tax hike that went into effect on April 1, he noted.
"People don't do long-term political thinking like this," he said. "The message to Congress is, 'You're messing with us, you're spending too much. Don't tell us this is free, because it isn't.' People aren't mad at Obama; they're mad at the policies. This is much more dangerous for the left and very positive for the taxpayer movement." MORE METRO
What will be the effect of all the protests? Norquist said he believes it will give members of Congress — principally Republicans — more resolve to oppose spending bills and bailouts while making "big government supporters" think twice about automatically backing them.
Democrats have painted those behind the tea parties as far-right conservatives who thrived under President George W. Bush and are opposed to Obama's agenda.
"What's clear is that the overwhelming majority of folks support President Obama's plan to get the economy back on track and provide 95 percent of working families with tax relief, because they are no longer going to accept 'more of the same' as an answer," Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan said in a statement. "It is interesting to note that the folks leading today's activities are the very ones that promoted, and benefited by, the policies of the previous administration — Rick Santelli, Alan Keyes and Dick Armey."
Keyes is a conservative political activist, and Armey is a former Republican congressman.
Organizers say the tea parties are the grass-roots expression of anger at the direction the country is going and aren't affiliated with a political party.
"This is not a party event," St. Louis coordinator Bill Hennessy told the crowd. "We're here around the same things: taxing and spending and borrowing and the size of our government."
That's not to say Obama's name wasn't on many lips, and on many signs. "Jesus saves, Obama spends" read one; "President Obama, I believe you have all my change," read another. But many targeted big government: "Free markets, not free loaders" and "Stop the reckless spending," two in St. Louis said. "Give me Liberty … not Debt," read one in Springfield, Ill., where nearly 400 people gathered for a rally.
Organizers promised more tea parties, with the next in St. Louis penciled in for July 4 — an apt date for a group that uses the language of revolution.
"When the Constitution says, 'We the people,' it's talking about us," Hennessy told the crowd at Kiener Plaza on Wednesday night. "When the Declaration of Independence says, 'When in the course of human events,' it's talking about now."
He had the support of Don Killian of Troy, Ill. Killian said he was proud to join the "silent majority" that had finally "gotten off their butts."
"I'm fed up with the way government's doing things right now," Killian said at the St. Louis rally. "They're trying to make a socialist country. ... Our voice is going to be heard."
Kari Andren of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report from Springfield, Ill. Bill Lambrecht reported from Washington.
Saint Paul, MinnesotaSource
In Minnesota and across the nation, protesters rallied against taxes, bailouts, earmarks and deficits.
By MIKE KASZUBA, Star Tribune
Last update: April 16, 2009 - 10:51 AM
Thousands of Minnesotans angry over Wall Street bailouts and federal stimulus packages -- some dressed as Revolutionary War soldiers and others wearing T-shirts reading "Party Like It's 1773" -- fanned out Wednesday in front of the State Capitol to join a nationwide Tea Party that promoted lower taxes and smaller government.
In 16 cities across Minnesota and as many as 750 other locations nationally, the events were timed to use the April 15 tax deadline to jump-start what organizers said is an emerging grass-roots movement targeting everything from President Obama to the policies of the Federal Reserve and even the disputed U.S. Senate race in Minnesota.
Although many in the crowd of around 2,000 in St. Paul said the event was the beginning of a more vocal anti-tax groundswell, detractors dismissed the gathering as little more than a rehash of resentments fanned by talk radio and TV pundits.
"Are you sick of earmarks? Are you sick of pork? Are you sick of deficits?" Sue Jeffers, a former gubernatorial candidate, shouted at the St. Paul rally. Some held large American flags in the late afternoon sun, and a sign with the words "Don't Tax Me, Bro" stuck out from the crowd. With each question from Jeffers, the crowd roared "Yes."
"This is the start of something big," she said.
Although the focus was on high taxes and big government -- one sign said simply, "I Am Not An ATM" -- the rally drew a large array of causes, ranging from criticism of the media to a call for a U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations.
Similar sentiments resounded at rallies elsewhere in the nation. In Boston, a few hundred protesters gathered on the Boston Common -- a short distance from the original Boston Tea Party -- some dressed in Revolutionary garb and carrying signs that said "Barney Frank, Bernie Madoff: And the Difference Is?" and "D.C.: District of Communism."
In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry fired up a tea party at Austin City Hall with his stance against the federal government, as some in his U.S. flag-waving audience shouted, "Secede!"
In St. Paul, one of the people on hand was Bryan Bjornson, a 6-foot-4 resident of Hopkins with a Fu Manchu mustache. Bjornson is the founder of the A1S8 Society, an anti-big government group. In many ways, Bjornson said, the group's name encapsulated a core principle of the new movement: If any activity is not specifically authorized by Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, he said, then "our government should not be doing it."
Among other things, Bjornson said, that includes Social Security payments. "If you can find in there anywhere where it says the United States Government is supposed to provide for anybody's retirement, I'll give you a hundred bucks," said Bjornson, whose uncle was a longtime Minnesota state treasurer.
Stung by last fall's election defeat, conservatives who organized the rallies said they hope they have found an issue that resonates with the broad middle ground of voters who they suspect might be growing uneasy with the Obama administration's ambitious spending policies.
And they said they succeeded. After Barb Davis White, a former congressional candidate spoke, a woman came up to her and gushed: "I pray for you and Michele Bachmann," a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota.
But tax day brought out defenders of taxes as well. At a noon news conference at the Capitol, one group, the Alliance For A Better Minnesota, announced an "It's Patriotic to Pay Fair Taxes" campaign. The purpose: to remind taxpayers of roads and teachers funded by their taxes.
Tea Party detractors said powerful national conservatives had tried to confer upon tax protests that often erupt at the filing deadline the kind of patriotic cachet of the Boston Tea Party, a pivotal event before the American Revolution. "It's [just] a different wrapper. It's the same bitter group," said John Van Hecke, executive director of Minnesota 2020, one of several self-described progressive groups that were dubious of the rallies.
Tea Party organizers said that wasn't the case at all. One press statement, in the days leading up to the event, scoffed at charges that the rallies were engineered by Republicans angry at Obama's policies. "The [Republican National Committee] has been about as effective as a lead balloon in actually engaging the free-market-minded grass roots," said Eric Odom, the founder of the DontGo Movement in Chicago, a libertarian-leaning group and one of the national organizers of the Tea Party.
Minnesota organizers said the events were aimed at putting average citizens angry at the country's direction in the spotlight.
In Fairmont, a rally was led by Neal Breitbarth, who sells agricultural pressure washers and recreational vehicles.
Chuck Bradford, a first-time City Council member in tiny Mantorville, found himself handling media relations for the Rochester rally. "Decision makers on both sides have really made some bad decisions," said Bradford, 44, a computer programmer and local Lions Club member.
At the State Capitol rally, one of the speakers was Jim Schottmuller, a former candidate for Ramsey County commissioner. Before taking his turn to address the crowd, he said: "This is pretty impressive."
Though the events shied away from notable political names, there were familiar faces behind the scenes. Pat Anderson, the former Republican state auditor, was a key organizer of the tea parties in Minnesota. Bachmann also lent her name to the effort. Breitbarth, the tea party organizer in Fairmont, said his daughter worked for Bachmann in her Washington, D.C., office.
Among some legislators, the Tea Party event was greeted cautiously. "I'm just thinking what I should say because it can be used against me in a court of law," joked Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, who drew the ire of conservatives last year as one of the few GOP legislators to vote for a state gas tax increase.
At the St. Paul rally, one man held a sign that criticized former President Bush, calling him a "Liar, Murderer, Terrorist." As a group of crowd members nudged him away from the podium, another man yelled out to the sign holder: "Go get jobs."
Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673 The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Charlotte, North CarolinaSource
Tax Day Tea Party protestors gather at City Hall
Taxpayers fed up with government spending to rally throughout Carolinas, nation.
By Jim Morrill
Posted: Wednesday, Apr. 15, 2009
Looking for tea? More than 30 tea parties are scheduled today in North Carolina, and about a dozen in South Carolina. To find one near you in North Carolina, go to: http://taxdayteaparty.com/teaparty/north-carolina/. In South Carolina, go to: http://taxdayteaparty.com/teaparty/south-carolina/.
Tea party to start at Observer
Today's Charlotte tea party is to start at 2 p.m. near the government center on Fourth Street. For some it will begin an hour earlier – outside the Charlotte Observer at 600 S. Tryon St. Organizer Matthew Ridenhour says the rally will underscore what protesters see as a lack of coverage by the mainstream media.
More than 2,000 protestors rallied at Charlotte City Hall today as part of the Tax Day Tea Party.
They were among more than 30 similar protests that were scheduled today across North Carolina and about a dozen in South Carolina. Hundreds more are occurring across the country, fueled by social networks such as Facebook and Twitter as well as conservative radio and TV.
On Tuesday, Charlotte banker Matthew Ridenhour explained why he organized the event. He has never worked on a political campaign. Never given to a political candidate.
But fed up with government bailouts and record federal spending, he organized a Tax Day Tea Party expected to draw more than 1,000 people to uptown Charlotte today.
“I was angry,” says Ridenhour, 31. “I just felt somebody had to stand up.”
Duke University political scientist Mike Munger calls it a groundswell.
“It's absolutely incredible,” says Munger, a Libertarian who ran for governor last year. “The thing that's odd about it is it's almost exclusively people who otherwise have not participated in politics before.”
But critics such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman say the protests represent less “a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment” than a movement manufactured by conservative groups and fanned by Fox News.
A growing effort
The impetus for today's protests, as for a handful of earlier ones, was a February rant by CNBC pundit Rick Santelli. Evoking Boston's 18th century patriots, he called for a Chicago tea party to protest federal spending and taxes.
While Santelli provided the spark, participants say the tinder came from taxpayer anger that has festered at least since last year's federal bailouts.
“People are basically tired of standing in front of their TV screaming,” says Amy Kremer of Atlanta, a coordinator of the National Tax Day Tea Party. “People are starting to come out of the woodwork because they realize we're not alone.”
Tea parties are backed by conservative groups such as FreedomWorks, founded by former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey. The group's Southeastern director, Allen Page, organized an April 4 tea party in Charlotte and is helping put together today's outside the General Assembly in Raleigh.
“People are … at a boiling point,” he says. “Enough is enough.”
Like Ridenhour, however, many organizers describe themselves as first-time activists. One is Sid Morris, who plans to host a tea party at the North Harbor Club he owns in Davidson.
“We just feel we need to do something,” says Morris, 62, a Republican.
Some groups like “Fair Tax,” which seeks to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, will try to sign up members today. But there appears to be no common agenda other than reducing taxes and spending.
“Bigger government is not what we need,” says Morris. “We need a better government.”
Myrick in Monroe
The liberal group Media Matters for America says Fox News gave the protests a partisan spin by promoting them as a response to President Obama's $3.6 trillion budget and $787 billion stimulus. Many Republicans have embraced the protests.
The National Republican Congressional Committee Tuesday urged supporters to attend a tea party. Republican U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick of Charlotte plans to speak tonight at a Monroe protest and former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich will headline a tea party in New York.
Melodye Aben, an unaffiliated voter from Raleigh, is statewide coordinator of tea parties in North Carolina. She writes a blog called “A Voice for Moms” that has been critical of Obama policies. But she says anger started with last fall's Wall Street bailouts pushed by George W. Bush.
“I have as many problems with the Republican Party as I do with the Democratic Party,” she says.
John Hood, president of the conservative John Locke Foundation, says many of those attending today's rallies will be newcomers to politics.
“They make a point of bashing Bush at least as much as Obama,” he says. “This is ‘a pox on both your houses' kind of message.”
Although Charlotte's Ridenhour recently got active in the Young Republicans, he says he's not particularly happy with GOP leadership.
“When Bush shoved that (bailout) program down our throats, I was really upset,” he says. “It's certainly not about President Obama's administration. The problem we're facing now is an American problem, not a party problem.”
A list of Tea Party events in the Charlotte metro region, according to Americans for Prosperity-North Carolina.
TODAY'S TEA PARTIES
Charlotte: 2-4 p.m., lawn in front of Charlotte City Hall, 600 East Trade Street.
Boone: 4-6 p.m., parking lot of Hardee's restaurant, near Appalachian State University's Holmes Convocation Center, Rivers Street.
Davidson: 5:30-7:30 p.m., North Harbor Club, 100 North Harbor Place (off Exit 30 on Interstate 77).
Fort Mill, S.C.: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Fort Mill City Hall, 112 Confederate Street.
Lancaster, S.C.: 2 p.m., north side of old courthouse, at Main and Catawba streets.
Lincolnton: 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Lincoln County Court House.
Monroe: 5-7 p.m., Old County Courthouse.
Morganton: Noon-1 p.m., Old Courthouse Square.
Newton: Noon, Catawba County Courthouse, 100 South West Blvd.
Rockingham: 4-9 p.m., U.S. Postal Service office, 119 West Washington Street.
Rutherfordton: 5-6 p.m., lawn in front of Rutherford County Courthouse, 229 North Main Street.
Statesville: Noon-5 p.m., Civic Center, Front and Center streets.
York, S.C.: Noon, near center of town, on North Congress Street.
Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059
Thousands show up for Dallas 'tea party'; Rick Perry fires up rallies
09:33 AM CDT on Thursday, April 16, 2009
By DAVE LEVINTHAL and GROMER JEFFERS JR. / The Dallas Morning News
For perhaps the only time Wednesday evening, the masses assembled outside Dallas City Hall grew quiet as the man who drew them there, Phillip Dennis, hunched over a wooden lectern, his eyes narrowing.
Thousands turn out for Dallas 'tea party' rally
"We will be called haters, and we are. We are haters of big-spending politicians. We will be called racists, and we are – we are members of the human race," Dennis, a McKinney resident, said as silence turned to roars.
Such moments encapsulated the spirit of area "Tax Day Tea Parties" – unapologetic public rallies that involved Republicans, conservatives and libertarians railing against government expansion, federal taxation and, ostensibly, the government of Democratic President Barack Obama.
At least eight North Texas municipalities, and about 1,000 municipalities nationwide, hosted tea party events.
Police estimated several thousand people attended the Dallas event, with protesters waving yellow "don't tread on me" flags and a variety of signs alternately decrying taxes, panning a federal economic stimulus package and chiding Obama as a socialist/communist.
Becky Hanshaw, wearing a pink papier-maché pig hat atop her head, said she drove 10 hours from McAllen to attend the rally because "it's time to stop the craziness."
"I work too hard to give my money away," said Hanshaw, a dental hygienist. "This is a message to both parties, because I don't believe the Republican Party is conservative enough."
Forty miles away in Fort Worth, about 4,500 people filled LaGrave Field to rally against higher taxes and increased spending in Washington.
They, too, carried signs, including ones that read, "God only asks for 10 percent," and "Born Free, Taxed to Death."
Gov. Rick Perry, wearing jeans and a cap, said the Fort Worth gathering was the largest he attended Wednesday.
He called the crowd a group of patriots, not "right-wing extremists" that critics call them, adding that Washington needs to cut spending and taxes and reread the Constitution.
"They're overturning the rights we had one by one, making choices that would leave our founding fathers scratching their heads," he said.
Perry recalled a line by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression."
Perry, who is in a tough re-election campaign for governor against U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, also praised Texas' diverse economy, low taxes and prudent spending.
After his speech, the crowd chanted "Perry, Perry," as he ran into the dugout, ran back out and tipped his cap to the crowd.
Caitlin Upton, a 26-year-old hospitality industry worker from White Settlement, said she was against socialism and nationalized health care.
"I'm a grown woman, and I can take care of myself," she said.
John Smithee carried a sign that read, "Stop Thief."
"They're stealing from my grandbaby," he said.
While calling themselves a "silent majority," the tea party protesters face formidable obstacles to achieving their stated goal of winning back numerous congressional seats during 2010 elections.
Obama retains much of the national popularity that swept him into office during the November elections, his approval ratings having slipped slightly since his inauguration but still hovering in the mid-50s.
A national Gallup poll released earlier this week indicated that 48 percent of Americans believe the amount they pay in federal income taxes is "about right" – one of the highest percentages since the annual poll began in 1956.
And even if the national debt continues to increase as it did during the last decade, Americans' federal, marginal income-tax burden is generally lower in 2009 than it was during most of Ronald Reagan's administration in the 1980s, according to statistics from the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based nonpartisan tax policy organization.
For a cluster of 25 or so Democrats quietly revolting against the tea party in Southlake, the events unsuccessfully mimicked an overwhelming grass-roots mobilization during Obama's campaign.
"They need to redo their base so they don't just have evangelical Christians, and this is what they are doing," said 53-year-old Ann Teeter, pointing to the stage from the back of the 500-person-strong crowd. "We are deep in Republican country where people make more money than anywhere else in the country. They just don't want to pay."
Some Dallas eventgoers acknowledged that left-leaners have outflanked conservatives in their use of technology as a political tool.
But no more, they vowed.
"We're going to show them how to use Facebook; we're going to show them what Twitter is!" said Mark Davis, the event's emcee and a WBAP-AM (820) radio host and Dallas Morning News columnist.
Added Michael Quinn Sullivan, leader of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility: "You and I have to reclaim our brand."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, speaks to the crowd during a 'Don't Mess With Texas' tea party rally on Wednesday outside Austin's city hall.
At one point, Davis piped nationally syndicated conservative columnist Michelle Malkin through the event's audio system via a Blackberry handset.
"If the White House didn't know we existed before, they do today," Malkin said.
Indeed, conservatives in Texas and elsewhere are rising, Dennis said, as he stood beneath a metal tower about 25 feet high, meant to represent the height of the federal tax code if stacked one sheet atop another.
"The conservative sleeping giant is awake. He is awake, and he is hungry," Dennis said. "We will not go gently into socialism – at least not here in Texas."
In Austin earlier Wednesday, Gov. Rick Perry told an anti-tax "tea party" the federal government is "rampaging through the halls of Congress" with big-spending programs and only states' rights can stop it.
"We will not stand our pockets being picked, our children's future being mortgaged, our rights being taken away," the Republican governor told a cheering crowd of 1,000 people outside Austin City Hall.
Perry dismissed characterizations that those attending Wednesday's "tea party" rallies in Texas and around the country are "a bunch of right-wing extremists."
"But if you are, I'm with you," he said.
During the speech, people waved "Don't Tread on Me" flags and signs lampooning the Obama administration's economic stimulus efforts. Some shouted, "Secede!"
Among the signs: "Obama. Liar in Chief" and "I'll Keep My Guns and Money. You Can Keep the Change."
Perry told reporters following his speech that Texans might get so frustrated with the government they would want to secede from the union.
"There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that."
The event came as Perry has stepped up his criticism of political rival Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, suggesting she is part of the problem in Washington.
Perry has criticized federal bailouts and has refused $555 million in unemployment money because of strings attached. He has in recent days asserted states' rights under the 10th Amendment and denounced Washington for overstepping authority.
A spokesman for Hutchison said the senator was in Houston for an event promoting her amendment to make permanent the Texas state sales tax deduction on federal filings.
"The senator is on the front lines in Washington against the Obama administration and their unnecessary spending," said Hutchison campaign manager Rick Wiley.
Before the speech, the Republican governor made the rounds of conservative media on Wednesday. He appeared on Fox News' morning television show and then on Laura Ingraham's radio show, where he compared the anti-tax protests with the battle of the Alamo.
"Washington needs to hear us loud and clear," said Perry, who wore a khaki jacket and a hunting cap. "Cut the spending, cut the taxes, shrink the government. And reread the Constitution."
Texas Republican Chairman Tina Binkiser told the crowd, "We will not bow down to Washington politicians." And conservative radio commentator Rick Green declared, "We are firing the first shots of the 2nd American revolution right here in Texas."
Some in the crowd, which included libertarians and other third-party advocates, said even Perry was not conservative enough.
"This is what politicians do," activist Robert Morrow of Austin said of Perry's appearance. "He's a big-government politician but he's just scared because he has a primary."
Organizers say that Texas is one of the key areas for the parties, with conservative politicians and media personalities giving speeches.
Elsewhere in Texas, Fox News talk-show host Glenn Beck is broadcasting from the Alamo in San Antonio, where rocker Ted Nugent will perform the national anthem.
Organizers are protesting increased spending in the federal economic-stimulus plan and President Barack Obama's multitrillion-dollar budget proposal. Organizers hope to draw enough participants to shake up congressmen who feel vulnerable in next year's elections.
Staff writers Wayne Slater in Austin and Jessica Meyers in Southlake contributed to this report.
Kansas City, Mo.Source
Tax revolution is brewing, 'tea party' protesters say
By MEREDITH RODRIGUEZ and JIM SULLINGER
The Kansas City Star
People used a variety of signs to show their opinion during a "tea party" tax protest on Wednesday, April 15th on the North lawn of Liberty Memoria
Local ‘tea party’ takes aim at big governmentInflatable clappers pounded. Placards bobbed. And people cheered after every wordplay Wednesday evening on the grassy hill above Union Station, unified in their protest against government spending.
“Free Market, not free loaders” and “Socialism smells like B.O.” were some of the messages waving next to American flags.
Even the babies had something to say. One’s white Onesie brandished a complaint: “Congress Is Robbing Me.”
Crowds of area residents turned out for this and two other “tea parties” where they voiced displeasure with the federal government. The local rallies were replicated across the country Wednesday, tapping into collective angst stirred up by a bad economy, government spending and bailouts.
Organizers — wearing shirts saying “Party Like It’s 1773” — estimated the Liberty Memorial crowd at 4,000 to 5,000.
Tea parties also took place Wednesday in Lee’s Summit and in Overland Park, where people lined Quivira Road and College Boulevard for more than two city blocks on the edge of Johnson County Community College.
The rallies came on a symbolic day: the deadline to file income taxes. And they were directed at President Barack Obama’s new administration.
“Four score and five days ago our president stood on the steps of the Capitol and promised change,” said Rob Willard, one of many speakers at Liberty Memorial. “It’s not the change I was hoping for. … It’s recycling — recycling bad ideas and politics.”
More than 750 tax day “tea parties” took place across the nation. One group promoting the tea parties was FreedomWorks, a conservative group led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas.
Organizers said the movement developed organically through online social networking sites and exposure on Fox News. While FreedomWorks insisted the rallies were nonpartisan, they have been embraced by many Republicans, Libertarians and others who lean to the right politically.
More than 1,000 turned out in Des Moines, Iowa, many wearing red “revolution is brewing” shirts. In Salt Lake City, many in the crowd booed GOP Gov. Jon Huntsman for accepting about $1.5 billion in stimulus money.
There were several counter-protests. One such protester in Cincinnati held a sign that read, “Where were you when Bush was spending billions a month ‘liberating’ Iraq?”
In Kansas City, keynote speaker Chris Stigall was one of many speakers who rebutted outside criticism.
“There are some that call this a gathering of hate. If you’re talking about high taxes and government spending, then you’re… damn right. We hate ’em both,” he said. “We can’t spend our way out of a problem caused by irresponsible spending.”
He then listed things “we love,” including lower taxes, borders, the military and stronger state and local governments.
“Most of all we’re gathered here today,” he said, “because we love our almighty God.”
Mike Ferguson, a libertarian speaker before him, repeated that curbing government spending was not a partisan issue. “Is this that right wing extremism I’ve heard so much about?” Ferguson said. “I’ve got to say, you all don’t look militant and dangerous. To me you look like real people with real complaints.”
Tim O’Neil, a Kansas City, North, resident who attended with his four children and wife, JoAnne, said that by gathering, his family would have a better chance of getting its message across to Washington: “It’s a community voice as opposed to an individual voice.”
Donnell Williams, a self-declared “black man living in the inner city,” may have stood out in the Liberty Memorial crowd. But he said he, his wife and 7-month-old child felt welcome.
“This should have never gotten to this point. We need to push Reset,” he said. “Let the market correct itself. Democrats, Republicans are taking money from the system. Now we have an I.O.U.”
In Johnson County, many drivers honked as they passed the protesters, which raised cheers from the sidewalks.
Vicky Coletti of Overland Park said, “We are bailing out all these companies that have made poor decisions.”
Gary Hart of Wellsville, Kan., was protesting Obama policies and held a sign that read, “If you agree with Obama, please don’t breed.”
ELSEWHERE AROUND THE NATION
Protesters threw what appeared to be a box of tea bags toward the White House, causing a brief lockdown at the compound.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry fired up a tea party at Austin City Hall, with some in the crowd shouting “Secede!”
In Lansing, Mich., about 4,000 people waved signs exclaiming “Stop the Fiscal Madness” and “Read My Lipstick! No More Bailouts.”
Providence, Rhode IslandSource
Stimulated to protest
08:51 AM EDT on Thursday, April 16, 2009
By Philip Marcelo
This reporter seems to think that "librarians" are the same as "Libertarians". "Librarians" work in libraries. "Libertarians" are members of the nations third largest political party the Libertarian party. And Libertarians hate too much government!Journal Staff Writer
The Providence Journal / Bob Breidenbach
PROVIDENCE — At least 2,000 people rallied Wednesday in front of the State House to protest the unprecedented level of federal spending to help overcome the recession.
For those who took off work to come downtown on a sunny but windy afternoon, it was a way of saying that the country is moving in the wrong direction. That government is growing too big, too fast. That too much is being spent that will have to be borne by future generations.
“It’s unconscionable to have to send this bill to our grandchildren,” said Marcia Camp, a retired librarian from Scituate who held up a sign saying “Save Trees, Stop Printing $$.”
Tax Day Tea Party held at Rhode Island State House in Providence
More projo videos “As a family, when our funds decrease, we reduce our spending,” said John Tousignant, who came from Coventry with his wife, Yvonne, and their two young sons. “But when the government’s funds go down, it just spends more. That just doesn’t work.”
The protest was one of many rallies held across the nation in an effort timed with the deadline for filing federal and state income taxes. Tens of thousands of Americans attended the 300 or so “Tax Day Tea Party” protests held in each of the 50 states, according to news reports.
At its peak, the State House crowd filled the capital steps and the plaza below, with many more taking up spots along the main path leading downtown. Handmade signs called for cutting spending and taxes and decried the federal bailout of the mortgage, banking and auto industries. Attendees waved large flags with the Revolutionary War-era slogan “Don’t tread on me.”
The crowd broke into chants of “No new taxes” and, in criticism of the state’s congressional delegation and General Assembly leadership, “Kick them out.”
Radio commentator Helen Glover, who was the event’s emcee, estimated the crowd at “between 2,000 to 3,000;” others counted 5,000. The Journal counted at least 1,000 in attendance halfway through the event.
“They laughed at us and said this would not be a big turnout,” Glover said. “But look at us. They won’t be laughing when we go to the polls next year.”
Besides the State House rally, “tea party” protesters also took to the street in Westerly, where they gathered in the early afternoon on Main Street. A rally organized by Ocean State Action — not connected to the “tea party” movement — also took place Wednesday in front of a post office in Providence, to protest the high cost of war.
Organizers say the “tea party” events echoed the spirit of the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when Colonists, angered at the English imposition of a tax on tea, rioted and dumped tea into Boston Harbor.
In Rhode Island, organizers say the tea parties were nonpartisan. Many of those who attended, however, were supporters of Republican candidates and/or fiscally conservative advocacy groups such as the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition and the Ocean State Policy Research Institute, which covered some of the costs of the event.
Patricia Christiansen, a librarian from Tiverton, said the rally was about more than taxes. “It’s about going back to the Constitution,” said Christiansen, who held up a sign saying “Give us Liberty not Debt” and “Government flows from the states, not the federal government.”
Many of the day’s 20 speakers –– who included local political commentators, bloggers and Republican politicians –– urged the crowd to take the anger and frustration expressed at the rally to continue to push for change.
“In my 25 years doing this sort of work, I’ve seen that movements like this come to a head and then they go away,” said Robert Healey, a former Cool Moose Party candidate for lieutenant governor who was one of the featured speakers. “Don’t let that happen with this.”
Colleen Conley, the event coordinator, said at least 10 more tea parties are planned nationally. “The next big one will be on July 4.”
The “tea party” movement was inspired by comments from CNBC reporter Rick Santelli on Feb. 19, in which he called for a July 4th tea party-like protest in Chicago. Santelli’s “rant” became a YouTube phenomenon.
But national frustration over high levels of government spending — from the banking and auto industry bailouts to President Obama’s federal stimulus plan — had been simmering even before then.
Coordinated largely via blogs and social networking sites, an organized protest popped up in Seattle on Feb. 16, and was followed the next day by rallies in Denver and in Mesa, Ariz. “Tea-party” protests and marches soon cropped up in other cities.
Salt Lake City, UtahSource
Tea party: Tax protests draws 2,000 in Salt Lake City Rally » Speakers say government spending threatens freedom. By Robert Gehrke
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 04/16/2009 05:56:36 AM MDT
An estimated 2,000 people weathered a cold, wet snow Wednesday in downtown Salt Lake City in a vocal protest of wasteful government spending and taxes, joining a handful of similar rallies around the state and dozens of others across the country.
Protesters perched on planters or huddled under umbrellas as speakers decried federal bailouts of failing banks and companies, mounting federal debt and elected officials who are out of touch, chanting over and over, "Send them home."
"I'm ticked," said Darren Kasparian, who owns a plastic repair business in Salt Lake City and says there's a disconnect between the elected officials and their frustrated constituents struggling to make ends meet. "We feel like we're living in a different world."
Utah Democrats said that the tax protests were orchestrated by right-wing radio but ignore that the Bush administration added trillions to the national debt.
The crowd repeatedly booed Utah's senators, Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, for being part of the problem and chastised Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. for not sending back $1.6 billion of stimulus money the state is expected to receive.
Hatch said in a statement that he shares the protesters' outrage. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who is considering challenging Bennett for his Senate seat, said Utahns don't need government "wiping our noses and putting Band-Aids on our boo-boos."
"The time for talk is over. Now is the time for action," said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. "Don't give us your entitlement. Don't take care of us. Get out of our lives and let us take care of ourselves."
The federal budget deficit is projected to reach $1.75 trillion this year, driven to record levels by repeated stimulus and bailouts.
"I've got to tell you, I'm fired up. No more bailouts, no more stimulus!" said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. "We cannot be all things to all people in this country. We can't keep running this country on a credit card."
Author Candace Salima warned that what she sees as a trend toward socialism would destroy the country.
"Have we had enough of high taxes? Have we had enough of big government? Have we had enough of socialism?" she called to the crowd, answered each time with cheers and shouts. "We do not apologize for being Americans. We are done having Europe telling us what to do."
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that his administration passed a $120 billion tax cut for 95 percent of American workers which began showing up on workers' paychecks on April 1 and also provided tax breaks for homebuyers and college tuition.
"For too long, we've seen taxes used as a wedge to scare people into supporting policies that actually increased the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams," Obama said. "That has to change and that's the work we've begun."
Utah Democrats say state residents' share of the tax cut is about $500 million.
A report issued Monday by the liberal-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said that the median tax burden for a family of four in 2006 -- the most recent data available -- had crept up slightly since 2003, when it was at the lowest level since 1955.
A Gallup poll released this week found that 48 percent of respondents thought their tax burden was about right; 46 percent said it was too high. It was the highest favorable rating since Gallup began conducting the poll in 1956.
More than half of those making less than $75,000 a year thought their burden was about right. Sixty-one percent said the tax system is fair.
But those people were not in attendance Wednesday.
"I'm just fed up with paying more taxes than I need to," said Stacey Guerra, of Salt Lake City, who attended the event with her husband and daughter.