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Tax day protest draws thousands to Capitol

April 16, 2009

Rochester Hills resident Aleta Moffitt looks to the sky while a speaker thanks God for blessing America during the tea party event Wednesday at the Capitol. An estimated 5,000 people were present at the event to protest the Obama administration’s appropriation of tax-dollars.

Photo by Sean Cook | The State News

Lansing — Signs painted “Taxed Enough Already!” and “Stop Reckless Spending!” were scattered throughout a crowd of about 5,000 gathering on the Capitol lawn in Lansing, where Samuel Joseph “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher hosted a rally in honor of tax day.

At one of the hundreds of rallies held across the nation, the signs were accompanied by chants of “U.S.A.!” and “No Bama!” as Michigan residents gathered to protest increased government spending and higher tax rates.

Wurzelbacher addressed the crowd with his message that common sense needs to be brought back to American government.

He encouraged citizens to contact their senators and congressmen with complaints and referenced quotes by Benjamin Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt during his speech, which lasted less than 10 minutes.

“These guys were about actions, not about words,” Wurzelbacher said.

The Ohio native added that although the protesters in attendance might be construed as extremists, “We’re just practicing our First Amendment rights, and what’s so extreme about that?”

Although Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., used “Joe the Plumber” as an emblem during his bid for the Oval Office, assistant James Madison College professor Michael Craw said Wurzelbacher did not have a big political impact on the presidential campaign last fall.

Craw said Republicans can’t do much to stop President Barack Obama’s administration from carrying out its plans, but featuring Wurzelbacher at this rally might have influenced the size of the crowd.

“These people are fairly committed to the Republican take on what’s going on with the economy right now,” he said. “We’re seeing an attempt to solidify the Republican base again.”

Kathryn Krzyzanowski, a University of Michigan-Dearborn senior, said although the crowd appeared to be primarily voters who supported McCain, many who originally supported Obama might be wavering due to the federal stimulus package and increased government spending.

“They didn’t know what that change was going to mean, and now that they’re finally realizing what that change is, I don’t think they like it,” she said.

Tony DeMott, state coordinator for Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, said putting all the blame on Obama is not entirely honest.

“Government spending is increasing currently, but Obama is really just following the trend,” DeMott said. “It started with the Republicans in office — (former President George W.) Bush raised the scope of government and … raised the amount of spending drastically.”

The rally at the Capitol wasn’t the only tax day party in the Lansing area. Members of the Great Lansing Network Against War and Injustice gathered at the U.S. Post Office, 4800 Collins Road, in Lansing.

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