A long time ago patriots took a stand against overtaxation, and today American citizens are repeating history and making the same statement, Gov. Rick Perry said in Fort Worth on Wednesday.
More than 5,000 people reverted to the ways of American revolutionaries Wednesday evening by carrying out a “tea party” protest at LaGrave Field.
Kelly J. Shackelford, chief counsel of the Liberty Legal Institute, opened the program and stated that this gathering was activists’ tool to win the fight against overtaxation.
“Why did the government pass the stimulus package when two-thirds of the American people didn’t approve of it?” Shackelford said. “Our congressmen didn’t even have time to read the entire bill; now the Congressional Budget Office says that the budget that Obama formed will triple our national debt putting this strain on our children and grandchildren.”
Perry said the lawmakers in Washington have forgotten the foundation on which the United States was built on and continue to erode its citizens rights while they spend the citizens’ tax dollars and the future tax dollars of their children.
“When government lowers taxes, it encourages spending and private sector growth,” Perry said. “We aren’t radical right-wing extremists. We are fellow patriots fighting for what is right.”
Perry instructed the audience to take out their cell phones and text “FED UP” to 95613 so that he could show Washington just how mad the citizens of Texas were.
Perry said the numbers would be compiled in a database to act as a petition.
“In the words of Sam Houston, Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression,” Perry said. “We will not stand for our pockets to be picked.”
First-year elementary education graduate student Courtney Steele said she came to the rally to support the governor and the values of fiscal conservatism.
“It doesn’t make sense to tax the people that create jobs, and I think it should be our choice as to which people and which charities we want to help and support versus who the government feels needs it most,” Steele said.
Steele said that in the field of education it is hard to find people who value the same things she does, so she relies on her husband and other family members to support her beliefs.
“My husband goes to work every day and works hard to provide the life we want for our daughter,” Steele said. “With the level of debt we’re getting ourselves into, I don’t even know if it will be paid off when she is my age.”
First-year MBA graduate student Erin Johnson said she came to protest the misuse of Americans’ tax dollars.
“I hope that the silent majority of fiscal conservatives raise their voices and opinions come November 2010,” Johnson said. “I hope that there are some major changes in office.”
Former TCU tennis coach Bernard “Tut” Bartzen said he attended the event to hear what Perry had to say about high taxes.
“I think the country is going in the wrong direction,” Bartzen said. “We need smaller government, we need smaller taxes and to enforce the laws that are built into the Constitution that guarantee our rights.”
Bartzen said the tea parties will show that there are a lot of people who feel the same way.
“Something like this is going to get Washington to take notice,” Bartzen said.
Similar rallies took place in hundreds of cities across the nation Wednesday, the final day for people to file their tax returns.
James Riddlesperger, a political science professor, said there were several reasons for the tea parties’ popularity. The first is that they provide a venue to vent frustration, he said.
“People get to blow off steam, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing in politics,” he said.
The philosophy that the federal government has grown beyond its necessary bounds is popular, he said. That, combined with the opportunity for politicians to increase their public profiles, has contributed to the hype surrounding the events, he said.
Perry, who is running for re-election in 2010 facing a primary challenge from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, said Tuesday that he supports a resolution in the Texas Legislature that affirms the state’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He said the federal government had become oppressive in its size and interfered with state affairs.
Perry has alluded to the amendment, which affirms that the federal government’s powers that aren’t provided by the Constitution are reserved to the states or the people, in rallies across the state.
But when it comes to complaints about taxes, using the 10th Amendment as an argument doesn’t work, Riddlesperger said.
“Just read the Constitution,” Riddlesperger said in reference to the 16th Amendment, which gives Congress the right to collect income taxes. “I don’t see how you can make the argument about taxation when it’s right there in black and white.”
Editor-in-chief Max Landman contributed to this report.