April 13th, 2009
06:28 PM ET
12 years ago

Activists gear up for national 'Tax Day Tea Party'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Legions of small-government, anti-tax activists around the country are mobilizing for a second wave of nationwide "Tea Party" demonstrations on Wednesday to protest the fiscal policies of the Obama administration.

Frustrated conservatives are expected to gather in towns and cities from Pensacola to Portland on April 15 for a national "Tax Day Tea Party" that organizers hope will send a message to Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill that the president's spending plans are putting the country on a potentially ruinous economic path.

Several GOP congressmen and other prominent Republicans like South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and former House speaker Newt Gingrich are speaking at rallies around the country.

Georgia Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, the chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee, said he has plans to speak to at least two Tea Party rallies in his state on Wednesday. He called the gatherings "a visible display of concern and frustration and angst about the direction of the nation."

"I think these Tea Parties answer the question for many folks, 'What can we do?'," Price said.

Keith Appell, a Republican strategist who has been working with some of the Nationwide Tea Party organizers, said that the president's spending plans - a $787 stimulus package, a publicly-financed plan to help distressed mortgages, and a series of cash infusions for financial firms - have sparked "a backlash at the grassroots level."

With congressional Republicans in a powerless minority, he said, the Tax Day protesters are “filling the vacuum.”

He said the demonstrators are not only rebelling against Obama, but also pushing back against Republican leaders who have lost sight of the party's fiscally conservative principles.

"A lot of conservatives were very turned off by the Bush administration's bank bailout," Appell said. "But once Obama's people started doubling down and tripling down, and Santelli played a part, the fuse had been lit."

"Santelli" refers to CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli, whose on-air rant in February about the White House's mortgage rescue plan inspired free-market activists to get organized.

The Tea Party movement quickly went viral thanks to conservative bloggers, Web tools like Twitter and Google Maps, and a helping hand from Fox News and conservative groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity.

The first round of Tea Parties, intended to evoke memories of the the 1773 Boston Tea Party that helped incite the American Revolution, were organized in late February.

A number of congressional offices have since been bombarded with envelopes and packages containing tea bags sent by constituents. A spokeswoman for the United States Postal Service told CNN that postal officials haven't discerned any noticeable spike in the amount of tea bags in the mail, but she said that "our employees have noticed some spillage of tea."

Internet entrepreneurs have also turned the Nationwide Tea Party into something of a cottage industry: bumper stickers, coffee mugs and t-shirts that bear slogans like "Free Markets, Not Free Loaders" and "Restore the Republic: Revolt Against Socialism" can be purchased in bulk online.

Filed under: Tea Party movement
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. DS

    where were these same people last year when GWB signed the first stimulus...moving on!

    April 13, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  2. Wynter

    Can't wait to see how few actually show up to one of these trumped up parties... It's all a staged act by Fox News and the RNC. There is no "grassroots" in the Republican Party. It died off!

    April 13, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. Marc

    It's democracy at work folks, they are against the governments ideas and are making public their position. If, at the very least, they come out with a concrete proposition (and not the 'tax cut Mantra')...

    April 13, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. SD,Michigan

    Corporate lobbyists and FOX News leading a bunch of low-income, uninformed people to protest against the tax increase for the top 2% wealthiest Americans. Priceless.

    April 13, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. JimS

    95% of all American People receive a TAX CUT under President OBAMA's plan since April 1st 2009.

    Under Bush only 2% received a TAX CUT.

    What are these people protesting against?

    Almost like protesting against sunshine.

    April 13, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. Neuter Newt!

    I thought these were 'outraged" folks from all walks of life a grass roots movement and not a "partisan political" event?

    At least that was the story they gave Michael Steele when he asked to speak.

    Now, they are having two repubs, the lizard and Sanford speak?

    This cannot bode well for Michael Steele.


    April 13, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
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