On the day that many Americans pay their federal and state income taxes, an estimated crowd of more than 3,000 gathered on the north steps of the state Capitol in Hartford to say “enough, is enough.”
Rick Rothstein, 57, of West Hartford one of the organizers of Wednesday’s event being billed as a “tea party,” said today is the day when you think about your taxes the most.
“We are specifically asking elected officials at all levels of government—federal, state, and local—to repeal the pork,” Rothstein, a certified public accountant, said.
John Antunovich of Danbury who was holding a “T.E.A. Taxed Enough Already” sign said he’s not the type of person who goes around demonstrating, but felt compelled to attend Wednesday’s rally. He said while he’s fairly insulated from what’s going on with the economy, he doesn’t want the next generation to be saddled with an enormous tax burden.
Natalie Katrenya, 8, is a member of that next generation. She was holding a sign saying, “I’m only 8 and I’m already $36,000 in debt.”
Susan Kniep, president of the Federation of Connecticut Taxpayers, explained that American taxpayers and their children will be burdened with $10.7 trillion in debt, which translates to $36,000 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. She said the interest payments of this debt alone is $500 billion for one year.
In addition Kniep said that Connecticut taxpayers pay one of the highest property taxes in the nation, second only to New Jersey. “The only recourse taxpayer have is to unite in solidarity to keep what little we have left as more economic storms brew on the horizon,” Kniep said.
In closing she encouraged the crowd to get involved at the local level and speak out at town council meetings.
Sandi Kalinowski of Durham said prior to attending Wednesday’s tea party she delivered a platter of tea bags to Gov. M. Jodi Rell, along with a personal note to let Rell know she’s not alone. Kalinowski said she knows Rell really wants to limit spending and that it’s the Democrats that are making it difficult.
“People have had it, and they are letting their collective voices be heard here in Hartford and across the state,” Rell said Wednesday. “As I have said repeatedly, the bloat of bureaucracy is no longer affordable. It is time to get back to basics.”
Rell did not attend the rally, but a few elected officials did.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Southport, Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, and former Congressman Rob Simmons, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd for his Senate seat in 2010 made an appearance Wednesday.
None of the trio were allowed to speak at the event, but McKinney said the big message which emerged from the rally is “we need government to stop spending our money.”
“This is what democracy is all about,” Simmons said as he pulled out a pocket-sized version of the US Constitution and pointed to three highlighted words at the beginning: “We the People.”
Simmons said he was allowed to speak at the New Haven tea party, but organizers of the Hartford tea party would not allow him to speak.
There were several anti-Dodd signs in the crowd and at one point James Bancroft led the crowd in a “Hey Chris Dodd, Swim to Cuba” chant.
Organizers of the tea party in Hartford said the movement is not tied to any political party and is an organic grassroots effort pulled together by a handful of volunteers, who were not paid for their work. Similar events were held in New Haven, Greenwich, and Norwich.
The “tea party” movement took off in February, when CNBC reporter Rick Santelli ranted against the stimulus package on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Click here to find out what happened at the New Haven tea party.