Published April 15, 2009
Chants like "Give me liberty, not debt" and "Our kids can't afford you" were heard across several U.S. cities Wednesday as anti-tax "tea party" protesters took to the streets to voice their opposition to big government spending.
Thousands of protesters -- some dressed in colonial wigs with tea bags hanging from their eyeglasses -- showed up in states from California to Kentucky to Massachusetts, holding signs and reading speeches lambasting the Obama administration's tax-and-spend policies.
"I have two little kids and I know we are mortgaging their futures away," one protester at a rally in Austin, Texas told FOX News. "It makes me sick to my stomach."
The demonstrations are part of a larger grassroots movement against government spending called Taxed Enough Already, or TEA -- giving name to the Tax Day Tea Parties -- and come more than 235 years after the original Boston Tea Party revolt against taxes.
Protesters gathered in cities across the country.
Shouts rang out from Kentucky, which just passed tax increases on cigarettes and alcohol, to Salt Lake City, where many in the crowd booed Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman for accepting about $1.5 billion in stimulus money. Even in Alaska, where there is no statewide income tax or sales tax, hundreds of people held signs and chanted "No more spending."
"Frankly, I'm mad as hell," said businessman Doug Burnett at a rally at the Iowa Capitol, where many of the about 1,000 people wore red shirts declaring "revolution is brewing." Burnett added: "This country has been on a spending spree for decades, a spending spree we can't afford."
In Boston, a few hundred protesters gathered on the Boston Common -- a short distance from the original Tea Party -- some dressed in Revolutionary garb and carrying signs that said "Barney Frank, Bernie Madoff: And the Difference Is?" and "D.C.: District of Communism."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry fired up a tea party at Austin City Hall with his stance against the federal government, as some in his U.S. flag-waving audience shouted, "Secede!"
But unlike many events around the country, politicians were not allowed to speak at a separate rally in San Antonio.
"They are welcome to come and listen to us, for a change," organizers said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Obama seized the opportunity to defend his tax policy Wednesday, saying, "Make no mistake: this tax cut will reach 120 million families and put $120 billion directly into their pockets, and it includes the most American workers ever to get a tax cut. This will boost demand, and save or create over half a million jobs."
"I know that April 15 isn't exactly everyone's favorite date on the calendar. But it is an important opportunity for those of us in Washington to consider our responsibility to the people who sent us here and who pay the bills," he said.
"If anybody involved looks at the facts, they'll find out that this president promised and this president delivered on putting more money back into the pockets of hardworking Americans, cut their taxes, made it more affordable to buy a home, made it more affordable to send their kids to go to college, provided tax incentives for businesses to create jobs through things like clean energy," Gibbs told reporters during an afternoon press conference.
"I'll let the organizers of whatever these are speak to their motivations," he said.
Earlier in the day, poor weather and permit problems threatened crowd turnouts at protests in Washington, D.C.
One million tea bags delivered to Lafayette Park were reloaded and sent away because tea party organizers did not have the proper permit, protest organizer Rebecca Wales told FOX News.
And a D.C. rally scheduled to take place outside the Treasury Department was cancelled when the U.S. Secret Service prevented protesters from gathering outside for lacking a permit.
The latest round of protests started yesterday when about 200 people gathered at the Missouri state capitol.
The movement has attracted prominent Republicans, some considering a 2012 presidential bid.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich address a tea party in a New York City park Wednesday night. His advocacy group, americansolutions.com, has partnered with tea party organizers to get word to the group's members.
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, another likely 2012 GOP presidential hopeful, planned to attend tea parties in Columbia and Charleston. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal sent an e-mail to his supporters, letting them know about tea parties taking place throughout the state.
There were several small counter-protests, including one that drew about a dozen people at Fountain Square in Cincinnati. A counter-protester held a sign that read, "Where were you when Bush was spending billions a month 'liberating' Iraq?" The anti-tax demonstration there, meanwhile, drew about 4,000 people.
In Lansing, Mich., outside the state Capitol, another 4,000 people waved signs exclaiming "Stop the Fiscal Madness," "Read My Lipstick! No More Bailouts" and "The Pirates Are in D.C." Children held makeshift signs complaining about the rising debt.
More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside a downtown federal building in Salt Lake City despite the rain and snow. Kate Maloney held a cardboard sign that read "Pin the tail on the jacka$$" with a picture of Obama on a Democratic donkey.
Other protesters also took direct aim at Obama. One sign in the crowd in Madison, Wis., compared him to the anti-Christ. At a rally in Montgomery, Ala., where Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" blared from loudspeakers, Jim Adams of Selma carried a sign that showed the president with Hitler-style hair and mustache and said, "Sieg Heil Herr Obama."
Still others talked of their children's futures. In Washington, D.C., Joe Hollinger said he took the day off to attend the protest with his 11-year-old daughter.
"I'm concerned about the incredible amount of debt Congress is going to put on our children," Hollinger said, pointing to his daughter's sign, which read, "Congress get your hand off my piggy bank."
"Across our nation, thousands of Americans are participating in taxpayer tea parties today for one simple reason: overtaxed families and small businesses have had enough," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Wednesday.
"They've had enough of Democrats forcing taxpayers to pick up the tab for more wasteful spending instead of working together to make the tough fiscal decisions Americans are forced to make each and every day. They've had enough of seeing their hard-earned tax dollars wasted on pork-barrel spending that won't create jobs, rebuild their savings, or get our economy moving again. And they've had enough of Congress and the White House mortgaging our children and grandchildren's future by saddling them with mountains of debt destined to bankrupt our country," Boehner said.
FOX News' Griff Jenkins and Eric Shawn and the Associated Press contributed to this report.