White House Finds D.C. Tea Party ‘Amusing,’ Says Protesters Were Helped by Obama Tax Cuts
April 16, 2009 - 5:25 AMAs hundreds of people gathered in the rain outside the White House on Wednesday to protest escalating government spending and taxes, President Barack Obama pledged to simplify the tax code and hike taxes only on those earning more than $250,000.
April 15, the deadline for filing federal income tax returns, was also the day for numerous “tea parties” across the country, reportedly held at 300 locations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. One took place directly across from the White House.
Many protesters carried signs with the acronym TEA, which stands for “Taxed Enough Already.” The event recalls the Boston Tea Party, where colonial Americans acted against heavy tax burdens imposed by England.
One sign at the D.C. protest read, “Bailout + Debt = Child Abuse: Congress Stop Robbing Our Children's Future.”
Bernard Hill of Germantown, Md., who owns a construction firm, believes the massive federal spending will lead to a growing tax burden on all taxpayers, not just the wealthy. “How can it not?” he said. “President Obama will ruin my business. I won't have a business to pay taxes." Across the street at the White House, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president will never raise taxes on anyone making more than $250,000 a year, and he said most people at the protest would be helped by the president’s policies.
“The only thing I find amusing is that, as I said and the president said, the tax cut that covers the most people in the history of this country was proposed and signed by this president,” Gibbs said.
“[If] anybody involved would look at the facts, they would find that this president promised and this president delivered more money back into the pockets of hard-working Americans,” Gibbs added. “I’ll let the organizers of whatever these are speak to their motivations. I think we can be reasonably assured that the people outside the window are not making a quarter of a million dollars a year.”
Bonnie Aitkin of Clifton, Va., said she was most concerned about the billions in federal tax dollars going to the financial industry.
“People don’t realize the corruption between financial institutions and elected officials,” she said. “The spending is going to require all people to pay more taxes. This is going to bankrupt this country.”
President Barack Obama met Wednesday morning with citizens representing “working families” who accompanied him to the podium for a tax-day address. “They are the workers, innovators, and students who must power our recovery. Their dreams must be our own,” Obama said of the people standing behind him. “And they need a government that is working to create jobs and opportunity for them, rather than simply giving more and more to those at the very top in the false hope that wealth will trickle down.”
The president said the tax code must be simplified to eliminate loopholes for the wealthy.
“We need to stop giving tax breaks to corporations that stash profits or ship jobs overseas so that we can invest in job creation at home, and we need to end the tax breaks for the wealthiest two percent of Americans, so that folks like me are paying the same rates that the wealthiest two percent of Americans paid when Bill Clinton was president,” Obama said.
Obama’s stimulus package, passed by Congressional Democrats, included tax cuts to boost consumer spending. But Obama's $3.5-trillion budget blueprint is projected to increase the deficit by $9.3 trillion by 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“For too long, we’ve seen taxes used as a wedge to scare people into supporting policies that increased the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams,” Obama said. “That has to change, and that’s the work that we’ve begun. We’ve passed tax cuts that will help our economy grow.”
But for Hill, the construction company owner, Obama's tax cuts are not going to compensate for the harm done by spending. “That's 26 dollars a month. It’s ridiculous to call that a tax cut,” he said.
Christie Pesavento of Chicago said that she also has a problem with the government “disregarding the Constitution and spending all this money.
“I just think if we go back to the principles the Founding Fathers fought for, during the Boston Tea Party and during the revolution, I think our economy will get back on track,” Pesavento said.