The nationwide Tea Party movement began as a grassroots effort to protest the exorbitant taxes government imposes on citizens. On April 15th, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers filled city parks and capitol lawns to voice their outrage at the burdensome taxes wasted by irresponsible politicians. It’s estimated that over 800 tea parties were held all across the nation, but Californians have more to lose (literally) than our fellow Americans.
In February, facing a $42 billion budget shortfall, California’s legislature and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger “solved” the budget problem by passing the largest tax increase in California’s history. That was around the same time the tea party concept started to gain momentum across the country.
The February budget agreement included $12.8 billion in new taxes and $11.4 billion in borrowing. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association estimates that each California family will be paying an additional $1,000 in new taxes this year to cover their legislature’s spending addiction. On top of the obscene stimulus spending that will saddle generations of Americans with unbridled debt, Californians will be laboring under one of the highest tax rates of any state.
With such a heavy tax burden, one can imagine the growing resentment and unrest amongst taxpayers. There were dozens of gathering in California, but the Sacramento Tea Party drew well over 5,000 citizens. Some long-time political activists observed that they hadn’t seen a crowd that large at the capitol in a very long time. Perhaps an indication of the rally’s anticipated size and impact, Fox News Channel host Neil Cavuto chose Sacramento as his broadcast location for the momentous day.
The event kicked off with a concert by Lloyd Marcus, an entertainer who penned the “American Tea Party Anthem.” Frequent Fox News Channel guest and local radio personality Mark Williams emceed most of the event, introducing a diverse group of speakers. Michael Reagan, whose father served as governor of California, rallied the crowd along with surprise guest actor John Ratzenberger. Although there were such celebrities in attendance, the event’s speakers reflected the true grassroots nature of the tea party movement: citizens encouraging and exhorting fellow citizens.
There were many political speeches delivered, but only two politicians actually appeared on stage at the rally: State Senator George Runner, who secured permits for the event, and Congressman Tom McClintock, a former gubernatorial candidate and famous foe of government waste.