Residents protest taxes, government spending during downtown rally |

Residents protest taxes, government spending during downtown rally

Brandon Gee

Rally participants cheer during the Taxpayer Tea Party held Wednesday in front of the Routt County Courthouse. More than 100 people attended the rally to protest as part of a movement against the national government's spending, growth and taxation plans.

— More than 100 people gathered on the Routt County Courthouse lawn to put an emphatic stamp on their tax bills Wednesday.

Residents angered by the Obama administration’s and Democratic Congress’ tax policies and spending plans expressed their rage at the “Taxpayer Tea Party” in fuming speeches and on colorful placards, one of which read, “Wall Street got a bailout. All I got was the bill.”

“We need citizens to strike back,” Steve Moore, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member, said in a recorded message played at the event. “We need to get our budget under control.”

The rally was sponsored locally by The Steamboat Institute, a new nonprofit and nonpartisan organization promoting free markets, low taxes, limited government, individual rights and responsibilities, and strong national defense. Rick Akin and his wife, Jennifer Schubert-Akin, organized Wednesday’s rally and are on the board of directors of The Steamboat Institute.

The event sported all the enthusiasm and organization that many said local conservatives lacked during last year’s presidential campaign – especially when compared to the highly visible efforts of local Democrats.

In November, Akin said, “For whatever reason, you’re unlikely to see Republicans standing on the street corner waving a sign. It’s always been that way. : That’s probably something we need to get better at.”

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Apparently, a nerve has been struck.

“We’ve had enough of your high taxes. We’ve had enough of your out of control government spending. And we’re not going to take it anymore,” Schubert-Akin said to loud cheers at the rally.

Volunteers passed out sheets with contact information for the White House, Colorado’s senators and U.S. Rep. John Salazar of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, and urged attendees to pick up their phones after the rally.

“It’s the people’s chance to stand up and say we’ve had enough,” Schubert-Akin said. “If you leave here today and you don’t go out and take action, our time will have been wasted.”

Similar tax day parties were held nationwide Wednesday. Americans for Prosperity, an economic advocacy group that promotes “a return of the federal government to its Constitutional limits,” supported the parties as a response to federal stimulus plans and economic recovery measures proposed by Congress and the president.

“I think we need to throw the whole damn bunch out and start over,” local resident Carol Ward said. “I’m just in disbelief that so many people in this country think we can spend our way out of a deficit. : I am mad as hell.”

Obama’s $3.6 trillion federal budget, which has been approved by Congress and will move forward a number of the president’s policy priorities, projects a $1.75 trillion deficit this year, the largest in history. During a visit to Steamboat Springs on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., defended deficit spending in the short term to help put the nation’s economy back on track and said deficits will be reduced in future years.

Those who attended Wednesday’s rally, however, weren’t buying the justifications.

“We are tired of the government spending our money on stupid stuff that we don’t need,” said Lisa Richardson, 18, of Craig.

Steamboat resident Shannon Steele said he attended the rally “just to stand up and be heard. Just to say we don’t agree with the current administration. We’re tired of the spending.”

Moving forward, Akin said The Steamboat Institute will hold educational forums on the country’s “founding principles.” A public policy conference has been scheduled for August. Akin said he hopes to land nationally recognized speakers for the event.