Patriots and activists rallied on Columbus, Ohio's Statehouse lawn yesterday to protest big government and higher taxes. I had the pleasure of speaking to Ohioans from all over the state, some of whom were attending their third or fourth Tea Party. Check out some pictures I took while at the event!
Many Buckeye residents were concerned with higher taxes from the recently passed healthcare reform bill – expected to cost tax payers $2.5 trillion over 10 years– as others spoke out against the possibility of a Value Added Tax (VAT) being instituted to pay for more wasteful government programs. It was clear; Ohioans were protesting their money going to programs that were not asked for and agendas that will not fulfill the Constitution. I met people who were lawyers, Congressional candidates, farmers, and postal workers who all were concerned with the path their government is on.
Beginning with Steven Carr, Leader of the Columbus Tea Party, he described the grassroots movement. The Tea Party is a meeting place for voters with common threads like a respect for capitalism, limited government, and lower taxes. However, Carr's Tea Party is not looking to be a 3rd Party source in Columbus politics. He called for public servants to "fall in line and be a government to the Constitution" and believes America became so good at creating freedom that later generations basked in liberty's success without furthering its cause.
Mike Maurer, transparency advocate and administrator of Ohio's Citizen Accounting Standards Board website, told the crowd the level of sophistication shown in the Tea Party signs is something both the media and elected officials lack. Fiscal responsibility is less spending AND less taxation, together and never apart, according to Maurer. He ended by saying, "If you think the Constitution is hard to understand, you might be a socialist."
Maurice Thompson of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, the same lawyer whose case led to Ohio forbidding ACORN from state funds, simply quoted Ronald Reagan: "If you can't make them see the light, you can make them feel the heat." As a lawyer, he "only sues the government," but he needs activists to be the boots on the ground for freedom. Thompson centered on fighting government paternalism and coercion, especially through laws and rhetoric. Citing Senator McCain's "Country First" presidential slogan, he responded, "it's not country first, it's the individual first."
The highest profile issue was repealing Ohio's Estate Tax, otherwise known as the Death Tax. In Ohio, the "tax is levied at rates of 5%-7% on taxable estates over a mere $338,333. It generates less than 1% of total state and local revenues." The National Taxpayers Union has long fought against the Death Tax because it burdens citizens who wish to leave their loved ones what is rightfully theirs. The government should not be a part of that exchange.
Another action item mentioned by many speakers was the Ohio Project – an Ohio Constitutional amendment to "preserve the freedom of Ohioans to choose their health care and health care coverage" as it bars any laws from forcing Ohioans to buy health insurance. According to their petition website, about 22,000 Ohioans have signed up out of the required 600,000 signatures needed.
If you live in Ohio, check out the National Taxpayers Union Ohio page and help the Buckeye citizens take back their state!