Tea Party protesters used Tax Day on Thursday to rally against higher taxes and bigger government, often using harsh rhetoric to attack President Obama and Congress for their big-spending policies.
“We’re on to them. We’re on to this gangster government,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn) told the cheering crowd at Freedom Plaza in Washington, a few blocks from the White House. “And we are not going to let them have their way.”
“Don’t Tread on Me” flags were everywhere, as well as numerous American flags, a few of which were displayed upside-down–the signal of distress. The program included prominent conservatives speakers and entertainment, lending a festive quality to the event.
Victoria Jackson, formerly of Saturday Night Live fame,brought the house down with the song, “There’s a Communist Living in the White House.” Before the event began, musician Lloyd Marcus warmed up the crowd and invited female members from the audience to come on stage and dance to his song about the 2010 elections, to the tune of “New York, New York.” Marcus exhorted the audience to vote in the fall elections for conservative candidates.
The entertainment was the opening act for a lineup of conservative speakers who attacked big government and demanded an end to Washington’s out-of-control spending.
“What Obama and Reid and Pelosi are trying to do is use the power of Washington, D.C., to change America into something else,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and one of the first speakers of the day. “What we want to do is take the strengths and the traditions of America and change … Washington, D.C.”
Bachmann, popular among Tea Party activists, decried Washington’s power grab, telling the crowd that higher taxes and increased government control over different sectors of the economy mean more power for the federal government. “You add all of that up together, now the federal government owns or controls 51 percent of the private economy,” Bachmann said.
She implored the crowd to send “constitutional conservatives” to Washington in November.
“For too long, this was not a government of the people—it was a government of the liberal people,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R.-Tex.).
He told the audience of their obligation to involve themselves in the matters of the country. “If you’re a citizen of this country, you have an obligation to help govern, to vote, to get your input in place, to run for office, to affect the government and the country,” he said. “That’s your obligation, and for too long it has not been addressed properly.”
Amy Kramer, director of Grassroots and Coalitions for the Tea Party Express, asked the crowd to get involved with elections in their states.
“The real work is done outside of a rally,” she said. “You need to do your research. Find who the conservative candidate is, and get behind them not only with your time, but with your money. You can’t sit back now, because if you wait until November, you are going to be voting for the lesser of two evils.”
Several speakers addressed recent stories that said 47% of Americans did not pay any federal income taxes, while 45% of Americans said that the level of their income taxes is fine.
“Now you’re here to explain this to the members of Congress and the bureaucrats that occupy these buildings, because they don’t get the correlation,” radio host Neil Boortz told the rally.
Norquist, in an interview with HUMAN EVENTS, said that the 45% who are content with their level of income taxes are not pushing for taxes to be raised on others, but are simply fine with the levels being where they are. Those who feel their taxes are too high are the ones who pay them.
Norquist said that 66% of Americans who are asked if their taxes are too high respond in the affirmative.
“So even the guys who don’t pay any income tax, pay sales taxes and property taxes and state income taxes. So they are overtaxed in their own view, not undertaxed,” Norquist said.
The crowd of several thousand included citizen activists from across the country. HUMAN EVENTS talked with participants from Florida, Georgia, California, Colorado, and Texas, with many saying they came to Washington even though there were Tea Party protests organized at locations near their homes.
“It’s a movement, but it’s a movement without a hierarchy, so there’s lots of room for disagreement,” said a member of the rally, from Richmond, Va.
“High taxes,” a Columbia, Md., man said was the main issue which prompted him to attend the Tax Day rally. Another man from Rockville, Md., said he was impressed with the crowd, and was pleased that the Tea Partiers were “downright Americans.”
The crowd was “a little light,” said a man from Fort Collins, Colo.
Another member of the rally expressed hope for the future of the Tea Party movement, saying of the unification of its various interests and groups, “It’s happening.”
Cartoon courtesy of Brett Noel