On the final stop of the Tea Party Express, activists marched to the U.S. Capitol on Saturday to protest health care reform, higher taxes and what they see as out-of-control government spending.
The conservative advocacy group began its tour in Sacramento, California, and made its way across the country, hosting rallies in about 30 cities. Washington is the final destination. Demonstrators gathered on the west side of the Capitol on Saturday and the crowd stretched for blocks At each stop, the tour highlighted members of Congress “who have voted for higher spending, higher taxes and government intervention in the lives of American families and businesses,” according to the Tea Party Express Web site. One woman at the rally summed up her feelings about issues this way: “It’s too much too fast.” Watch crowds stream into Washington A major theme of the rally was the push for less government. “The government should be doing things that are authorized by the Constitution; they should be doing things that the people want, not things that they just decide are nifty,” one demonstrator said. “We can’t afford these things anymore. “The government should be concentrating on cutting spending on all the programs, not thinking of new, wonderful ways of spending more. … I’ve voted my whole life. This is the first time in my life I’ve gotten off the couch and said, ‘I’m sick of this. It’s only three hours away, and I’m going to be there.'”
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Another man said, “We’re here to let the government know that we do not want government involvement in our health care, nor do we want the higher taxation that comes along with such a proposal.” Several speakers were to address the crowd throughout the afternoon, with events at the Capitol wrapping up about 4 p.m. The tea party movement gained momentum this year; several parties were held across the country this summer to protest President Obama and the Democrats’ economic stimulus plans, among other things. iReport.com: iReporters trade barbs On July 4, nearly 2,000 advocates, toting signs and chanting slogans, rallied outside Congress. Activists said the TEA Party Day — an acronym for “Taxed Enough Already” — was in response to runaway government spending. But now, the focus is on health care reform, an issue that has prompted a more encompassing debate. “What brought everything together was the Obamacare idea, which contains every odiferous objection,” Tea Party Express organizer Mark Williams said in August. Although the Tea Party Express tour was funded by Our Country Deserves Better, a conservative political action committee, Williams said his organization is nonpartisan and that the rallies are not aimed at one politician over another, namely Obama. iReport.com: Images from the rally
“This is not people upset over one particular politician or one particular party,” Williams has said. “In fact, if you ask the Republicans in the crowd, you’ll find they are just as upset at their party as they are at the Democrats.” Members of conservative groups such as FreedomWorks, run by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Campaign Liberty and the Institute for Liberty also were expected to participate in Saturday’s rally.