OLYMPIA – Encouraged by the large turnout this spring at anti-tax rallies, critics of government spending are planning a new round of demonstrations July 4.
Events are planned in more than 20 Washington cities, including Spokane Valley, as well as in Sandpoint and Boise. One rally in Olympia – the first of two – is slated for today.
“It’s gotten to a point, with the out-of-control spending and the government nationalizing the auto industry, banking and things like that, that it’s woken the silent majority up,” said Dan Rehling, of Olympia, who’s organizing the July 4 demonstration at the Washington state Capitol. “This is my prediction: It’s going to be the biggest rally the Capitol has ever seen.”
The demonstrations are modeled on April 15’s anti-tax demonstrations, which drew thousands of people to the Statehouse and other sites across the state.
“We’re not against taxes. We’re against unreasonable taxation beyond the scope of the Constitution,” said Dann Selle, a spokesman for a group that is organizing the Spokane-area rally July 4. It’s tentatively slated for Plantes Ferry Park in Spokane Valley.
Much of organizers’ ire is directed at the Obama administration’s moves to try to right the economy, including federal stimulus spending.
“All these people are saying it’s just a bunch of right-wing extremists living on the fringe,” Rehling said. “I am not that person. I’m just an average Joe that is fired up.”
State Rep. Brendan Williams said the demonstrators’ passions are misplaced.
“It would have been nice if they were protesting the excesses of the Bush administration that got us into this economic calamity,” said Williams, D-Olympia. “Now they seem to be faulting Obama for trying to dig us out.”
Williams said billions of federal stimulus dollars were a critical lifeline for the state budget, which nonetheless includes major cuts in education, social services, higher education and senior services. Without those federal dollars, Williams said, things would have been far worse.
Rehling agreed that federal spending mushroomed under Bush. But he said he’s worried about the debt burden being placed on subsequent generations.
The answer, he says, is to “recapture our government” by recruiting like-minded candidates and tossing out incumbents.
As the father of a 7-year-old, Williams said, he too is worried about the federal debt.
He argues that the best answer is a tax structure that asks the wealthy to pay more than they do now “instead of socking it to working-class folks.”
Rehling, who runs a Web site that links manufacturers with shippers, said he’s paying $1,500 for the portable toilets and sound system for the Capitol demonstration.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” he said.
“I’ve sat on the couch, watched the news, and said, ‘Goddang it, when are they ever going to get it right?’ Well, I am off my couch, and I’m going to stay off my couch.”