Anti-tax activists are holding a big demonstration on the steps of the Capitol in Olympia right now. It's part of a national day of anti-tax protests that GOP activists are holding today, tax day.
State Sen. Janea Holmquist (R-13, Moses Lake) gave the keynote. And as we've said a few times now, Sen. Holmquist is the loudest Republican this session (in which the Rs are outnumbered 31-18 in the Senate and 62-36 in the House). Holmquist lived up to her status, delivering a hotly partisan speech and earning loud cheers from the crowd with sound bites like these:
"Yes we can ... turn back the tide of Socialism."
"Stop spending our money. We are sick of bailouts."
On the bailout theme (which, it's worth noting, Republican President George Bush instigated) she called President Barack Obama the "car salesman in chief" and spoke about creeping Socialism—rejecting what she characterized as Obama's policy of "whispering in our ear" and pushing "a little Socialism."
"You know what," Holmquist told the crowd, "being a little bit Socialist is like being a little bit pregnant ... Pretty soon you give birth to a full blown Marxist."
Turning her critique to the local level, she said Gov. Gregoire and the Democrats had increased government spending by 34% since Gov. Gregoire took office—a misleading claim—and went on to bash the Democrats for how they're handling the $9 billion deficit. "They've proposed increasing the sales tax, your property taxes, the B&O tax, and even a state income tax." That final bogey man prompted the crowd—I'd put it over 1,000 people—to break out into chants of "No. More. Taxes!"
Holmquist concluded by telling the crowd she and her colleagues were going to march back into the Capitol and sign a joint resolution calling on Obama "if he's listening" to "stop spending our money."
I talked to a man named Joe Simpson, who was carrying a Boston Tea Party-themed sign—"T.E.A.=Taxed Enough Already." (The protest, hitting an American Patriot theme, was billed as an anti-tax tea party.)
But his message about paying too many taxes was a little mixed. He went on to complain that "50 percent of people in the country don't even pay taxes." So, I asked him if he would support an income tax on the rich to make them pay their fair share. But I guess I misunderstood him because he went on to say that the rich carried an unfair burden, and he criticized the earned income tax credit—a tax rebate that goes to poor people. (FYI Joe Simpson: Ronald Reagan called the EITC, "the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.")
I also asked Simpson the question that was bugging me all day about the tea party theme: Wasn't the the complaint in Boston about "taxation without representation?" Were the protesters saying we didn't have a representative government? Wasn't the 2008 election kind of a blow out—or at least a mandate for change after 8 years of Republican President Bush's small government, extreme free market policies?
Simpson, who came to the rally from Federal Way, said simply that he was against "Socialist and Statist solutions."