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Tea Party must still be rockin' in November

| Sunday, April 18, 2010

Will the applause lines of April still keep the voters fired up in November• That's the challenge for the tea party movement.

In bright downtown sunshine the other day last week, Pittsburgh area tea partyers came out by the hundreds to "take back America" together.

The pain was all so fresh in everyone's mind. It was the income tax deadline, April 15.

Who could forget the twin fiscal aggravations of 21st century America that tangle like weeds• How much of so many people's pay has to go to government, and how it's still far from enough.

The federal budget alone will be over $1 trillion more in debt in every foreseeable year, while still adding entitlements like the new health care "reform," which tea party folks want no part of.

The conservative-leaning but non-partisan movement, now into its second year, has been drawing all its energy from America's lurch to the left under the Obama administration.

Still, righteous anger gets hard to maintain when speaker after speaker repeats its buzzwords. "Balance the budget!" and "Follow the Constitution!" draw weaker applause, never mind the wisdom therein. Likewise, "No Cap and Trade!" "Strong National Defense!" "Fiscal responsibility!"

If the message doesn't grow more varied and fleshed out with dollar-and-cents policy alternatives, tea party planners are courting listener tune-outs. Hundreds more marches and rallies are planned nationwide and in Washington.

Several speakers at the Mellon Square touched on themes worth underlining.

As government grows hungrier for revenue and less able to restrain spending, some citizens will be paying 70 percent of their income to all tax levels in toto, federal, state and local — especially if Congress creates a European-style value-added tax (VAT) too, said veteran entrepreneur Glen Meakem.

Americans "are way overtaxed" as it is, he said. The 50 percent level has been breached by many. This squeezes the private sector, seedbed of productive jobs, to finance government's make-work and constant growth. Meakem said so-called progressives are actually rolling back progress by "appeasing public sector unions and destroying welfare reform."

Other speakers included Dale McCoy, a self-professed union Democrat (tea partyers are mostly Republican or libertarian). He said his original liberalism lost him when it veered into virtual or outright government takeovers of big banks, automakers, and student loan programs.

The Rev. C. L. Bryant said he and other African-Americans have been misled by "people in government who make every issue an issue of color." Liberal domination of school subject matter "is truly poisoning the minds of children," he said. "Government should get out of our doctors' offices, out of our children's lives, and out of our pockets."

Enlivening the party was a forest of homemade signs. Among the eye-catchers: "Liberty is all the Stimulus We Need." "Obamanomics is Trickle-Up Poverty." "Abortion, Euthanasia: Not the Way to Die for Your Country." "No More Lawyers in Government!" "Throw the Bums Out!" And, with reference to the income tax filing: "I just got raped at my accountant's office."

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