The pouring rain did not stop Allen LaBerteaux, 41, of Lilburn, from joining hundreds of protesters Friday who rallied at the Capitol against the federal stimulus package and government bailouts.
The state employee came with tea bags in his pockets to join what had been dubbed an Atlanta Tea Party protest against massive spending bills.
For LaBerteaux, the $787 billion federal stimulus package is a step away from personal accountability.
Fellow protesters chanted, “Take back America.” One held a U.S. Navy Jack with its rattlesnake and the words, “Don’t Tread on Me.”
About a dozen such protests took place across the country Friday, inspired by Rick Santelli of CNBC, who went on a spontaneous on-air rant on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade last week against Obama’s proposed mortgage bailout. He said the bailouts encourage bad fiscal behavior. Santelli mentioned holding a tea party to protest the idea, like the Boston Tea Party, when colonists protested unjust taxation from England.
The idea took on a life of its own, and Friday, tea party protests were held in Nashville; Jacksonville; Wichita, Kan.; Lansing, Mich.; St. Louis; Omaha, Neb.; Houston; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; San Diego; and Washington, D.C., according to news reports.
About 300 protesters showed up in Atlanta to protest the stimulus bill and other bailouts.
Leah Dukes drove from Greensboro, Ga., to lend her support. “Taxation has gotten away from representing the people,” she said.
Supporters of the stimulus package say it is designed to jump-start the economy with public works construction, new jobs and tax cuts for millions of Americans. Georgia stands to receive $6 billion from the package at a time when the state is facing deep cuts because of the tanking economy.
But protesters at the Capitol said the federal aid is a bad idea and that congressional Democrats are mortgaging America’s future.
They handed out One Trillion dollar bills with the faces of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).
State Republican politicians lined up to speak in the rain, including gubernatorial hopefuls Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and Rep. Austin Scott (R-Tifton), with a message of change at the ballot box.
State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) spoke too, urging the crowd to find socialists in office and “kick them out.”