Yesterday afternoon, I went to the Minnesota state capital in St. Paul to speak to a Tax Day Tea Party rally on the mall. It’s the third time I’ve been there in the past five weeks, and like the other two events, it provided an exhilarating experience to be among such a diverse group of people opposed to the direction this Congress and the President have taken the country. As I told an Minnesota Public Radio reporter at the event, the crowd included a fairly wide range of divergent political groups that normally would be debating each other rather than uniting for a Tax Day protest. It’s a measure of how radical the agenda has become in the past fifteen months.
I didn’t notice any infiltrators in the crowd, which I would guess amounted to about 1200-1500 around the time I spoke. The local ABC affiliate put the number at “a few hundred”, but you can make your own guess from the video below. We did see a couple of the local lefty bloggers out in the crowd, but the organizers explicitly told the crowd that everyone’s First Amendment rights needed to be respected, as did a few of the opening speakers. No disturbances erupted, and everyone seemed pretty happy to congregate and demonstrate.
Below is a video taken of my speech by my NARN radio partner Mitch Berg, who actually delivered one of the best speeches of the event. I didn’t get it on tape because I spent the first couple of minutes of his speech attempting to finish a conversation with another attendee of the event. The pictures in the first Flickr slideshow come from Mike, a Hot Air reader who attended the rally. Mike says he’s the one who got the question about the Gallup poll correct, which you’ll see in the video. The second set comes from Flickr user 2ipa. I’ve also included my remarks as prepared for delivery below the slideshows to make it easier to follow along.
Tax Day speech
Good evening! I’m Ed Morrissey of Hot Air. I’m also on the air locally at AM 1280 The Patriot on Saturday afternoons. I’m proud to be here with my fellow Americans who are concerned about the direction Congress and this President has taken for our country, and who are exercising the natural right to free speech and assembly to do something about it.
Let’s get something straight right now. I pay my taxes. You pay your taxes. We are law-abiding Americans who support our country, and we have no problem at all paying taxes for legitimate purposes of government. That’s a long tradition in the US, and it started with our own Constitution. High taxes and high-handed governance by remote elites provoked Americans into asserting themselves and assuming the mantle of self-governance. Our founders wrote the Constitution to ensure that this country never had to suffer under the rule of disconnected elites attempting to manage and tax every aspect of our lives.
How’s that working out for you?
America was founded on principles of private property and individual choice. Our forefathers went to Boston Harbor 237 years ago to throw tea into the sea rather than pay overbearing taxes imposed by people who thought they knew better than the taxpayers themselves.
If that happened today, how would the media report it? The networks would lead with “Violence broke out at a political event today.” MS-NBC would report that “teabaggers polluted the ocean, which may lead to colonial warming!”
Chris Matthews would then explain that all of our unhappiness was due to the King not fully explaining the benefits of the social state.
Joe Biden tells us that paying higher taxes is a patriotic duty. Now, I think our Vice President means well, but he seems to have missed a few days of school on American history. Serving one’s country is a patriotic duty, whether it be in our armed services, in law enforcement, fire and rescue, or in good stewardship in public office. Voting is a patriotic duty. Actually, Joe will be happy to know that a lot more of us will be doing that patriotic duty this year.
But paying higher taxes is not a patriotic duty. That’s just bunk, especially when the money goes to a Congress more interested in redistributing wealth than in working within the confines of the Constitution. Congress swore an oath to uphold and defend that Constitution – we didn’t swear an oath to uphold and fund social engineering.
Gallup did a poll this week of Americans about taxes, one they do every year. Let’s see if anyone can guess what percentage of people they found that believed they pay too little in taxes. How many people in this country agree with Joe Biden, and think they need to pay more? Can anyone guess?
Three percent. That’s it. Three percent. Ninety-seven percent of Americans either believe that they pay enough or too much already.
Of course, that’s only on those days when we can actually figure out how much we’re supposed to pay. Does anyone know how big the current tax code is? In 1955, it was just seven hundred thousand words long. In 2005, fifty years later, it had grown to over seven million words. The IRS employs more people than the FBI and the CIA combined.
How many of you prepare your own taxes? I can’t. I pay an accountant to do my taxes every year, and it’s not cheap. But the cost of compliance isn’t just how much we pay tax preparers for our personal federal income tax as Tax Day approaches. That’s the entire cost of everyone, including businesses, complying with this Byzantine tax code. How much is it? Compliance with the current tax code costs the economy $338 billion dollars each year. That would equate to about 9% of the current federal budget.
We know who pays the compliance costs for individuals. We do. Who pays for the compliance costs for businesses? We do — in higher prices. Lucky us – we get to pay twice!
Speaking of compliance, one might think that the members of Congress who inflict this code on us might do their own taxes. In fact, only one member of Congress did his own tax return this year without any outside help at all – and that’s because he was already a tax accountant. That’s one person out of 535 people, and these are supposed to be the experts.
In a way, though, we’re lucky to have Tax Day. If some people in this administration and Congress get their way, every day will be Tax Day. Talk has begun in Washington about creating a federal “value-added tax” or VAT in addition to the federal income tax. What’s a VAT? It’s a sales tax on goods and services taken out of our pockets right at the cash register. For those of you who do recall your American history, unlike our esteemed Vice President, think of it as a Stamp Tax. That, as you will recall, was what started us on the road to declaring our independence in the first place.
And why does Congress want to consider this new tax? Their big spending programs have bankrupted the nation. They’re borrowing money like mad from places like China, who obviously have our best interests in mind, to sell us programs like ObamaCare and cap-and-trade. They offer us “free” services and then want to send us the bill later.
And when we point this out, what do the media and the entrenched elites call us? If we’re lucky, they’ll call us extremists, and “angry.”
In fact, you’ve got the media puzzled today. There are stories aplenty about how Democrats included some temporary tax relief in their stimulus bill, and how the Tea Parties have misled you all. But they miss the point entirely. One-time tax credits don’t fool anyone. When Democrats added over a trillion dollars of new spending to the federal budget in just three years, we know what comes next – big tax hikes or brand-new taxes to pay for it all.
Gallup released another survey today showing that you haven’t been fooled at all. Sixty-three percent of Americans expect tax hikes in the next twelve months. Only six percent of Democrats think taxes will go down. The media and the Democratic Congress are the ones trying to mislead you – and they’re both failing miserably, because Americans aren’t stupid.
We are not angry extremists, either. We’re the keepers of what’s left of the legacy of those founders. We reject the elitism of those who would dictate our most personal choices, based on the whims of bureaucrats in Washington. We reject the idea that government’s purpose is to make arbitrary redistributions of private property. We emphatically reject the policies that have made this nation a debtor state on the verge of financial collapse. And we demand accountability from the elected representatives who have left us in this sorry state!
That’s a patriotic duty, and one I’m proud to carry out with you here today!