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200 gather for Tea Party, Part II

Sat., July 4, 2009, 9:56 p.m.

About 200 local residents celebrated Independence Day by attending a Tea Party rally at Plantes Ferry Park.

Speakers denounced the federal government’s economic policies and growing deficit. The proposed “Community Bill of Rights,” backed by Envision Spokane, also came under attack.

Critics said making the city responsible for creating a system of affordable “fee-for-service” preventive health care and other provisions in the proposal were unrealistic and contrary to private enterprise. One speaker called it “a local Communist Manifesto.” The rally drew people with a wide array of political opinions. Gil Meacham, a retired Spokane Realtor, attended out of concern about the federal deficit.

“This is not a bunch of ultra-right-wing people who are here to complain about the Obama government,” he said.

Meacham, who described himself as an individual of modest means, said he’d probably benefit from new government programs, but preferred to see the nation rein in spending.

“We’re printing money to get rid of a recession instead of being fiscally responsible,” he said.

Meacham also opposes the cap-and-trade plan to reduce greenhouse gases. He said it would drive American jobs overseas.

Karlene Pickett brought her 15-year-old daughter, Holly, to the rally. She also listed stimulus spending as a concern.

“I’ve always voted Republican, but I don’t feel that they represent me anymore,” the Colbert woman said. “I’m looking for other ways to have a voice.”

Claudia Johnson came to the rally to express a variety of concerns. Higher prices for gasoline and electricity are cutting into her budget. She’s also worried about the cost of health care, and said the U.S. government provides too many benefits for illegal immigrants.

“It’s not a Republican or a Democrat thing. Our whole government is corrupt,” said Johnson, who is retired from nursing and sales.

The rally in Plantes Ferry Park was one of many similar events throughout the state.

The Washington State Patrol estimated 1,500 people attended an anti-tax rally on the Capitol campus in Olympia, the Associated Press reported.

Organizers of the Taxed Enough Already event had expected several thousand people to attend the protest of the Obama administration’s economic policies.

The rallies were held in concert with hundreds of others around the country.

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