Saturday, April 16, 2011
Tax Day Rally
By James Monteleone
Journal Staff Writer
Tea party supporters lined an Albuquerque street Friday by the hundreds — down from the crowds at past years' rallies — but many say the movement to cut taxes and shrink the federal government has only grown.
Supporters waving American flags and placards protesting federal spending were intermittently dispersed along Menaul between San Pedro and Pennsylvania NE for the annual tea party tax day rally.
Although tax day this year doesn't come until Monday because of a Washington, D.C., holiday, the April 15 date is tradition for the tea party rally since 2009, according to organizers.
Participants said this year's rally had the same focus of past protests.
As federal spending and the national deficit have become a focus of the national media in recent months, more people are paying attention to the nation's need to be fiscally responsible, said Tim Hall of Albuquerque.
And that support was audible on Friday as many more passing drivers honked their vehicle horns in support than had in past years, he said.
"I think people are more aware than they were before. It's because it's become part of the conversation," Hall said.
Having a new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives pushing for federal budget cuts is a start, but more work needs to be done in Washington to stop spending beyond the nation's means, supporters said.
"It's still not enough, but I don't know what it would take," said Albuquerque resident Cheryl Jones, attending her first tea party rally.
"I never paid that much attention to the goings on (in Washington). But it's just gotten so much worse," she said.
"Our society is changing for the worse and our finances are in terrible shape, and we're not going to be able to pull out of it if we don't do it now," said Ann Hansen.
Supporters waved signs like "You can't spend your way to common sense," and "America ... Between Barack and a hard place," and emphasized what most said was wasteful spending and inadequate leadership from President Barack Obama.
Albuquerque resident Keith Drummond said he voted for Obama in 2008, but feels he hasn't seen enough changes in Washington to continue to support the president's direction.
But Republicans aren't doing the job either, he said.
"I think, personally, I have as much distrust of Republicans calling themselves (fiscal) conservatives as I do Democrats," Drummond said.
An estimate of the tax day rally's turnout was difficult as the sporadic crowd was spread across 15 city blocks, with more dense congregations around the intersections of Menaul and Louisiana and Pennsylvania.
Rally organizers tagged each participant with a sticker to calculate a total turnout, estimated at 2,200 Friday night.