As Tax Day protesters outside the White House and around the country attacked what they see as out-of-control government spending, President Obama promoted himself as a tax-cutter.
“My administration has taken far-reaching action to give tax cuts to the Americans who need them,” Mr. Obama said at an event at the White House intended to highlight tax cuts, credits and refunds enacted since he took office.
Mr. Obama met with a small group of families from the Washington area and New York who fit into the “working families” demographic to which the White House has targeted its tax cut message.
Mr. Obama said his “making work pay” tax refund of $400 for individuals and $800 for families who make less than $250,000 is the “the most progressive tax cut in American history.”
The White House also released a long list of tax credits and refunds they’ve implemented, largely through the $787 billion stimulus legislation passed in February.
But a group of tax protesters outside the White House braved the rain for several hours to hear speakers rail against the government’s spending and tax policies, and eventually shut down the northern portion of the White House compound by throwing a package reportedly including tea bags over the White House fence onto the North Lawn.
And a group of conservative leaders issued an unusual joint statement decrying the president’s claims to fiscal modesty, saying that his plans for health care, energy, social and new spending to attack the recession virtually ensure that all Americans will face higher taxes down the road.
“Free-spending liberals on Capitol Hill have already guaranteed years more of punitive taxes by passing enormous and wasteful spending bills that will saddle massive debt upon the next two generations of Americans,” the conservative critics said.
The group included Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; and Edwin Meese, attorney general under President Reagan.
The president acknowledged that “April 15 isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite date on the calendar,” a nod to groups protesting his policies around the country.
More than 1,000 people gathered outside the White House for a “Tea Party,” modeled on the tax protests in the American Colonies against the British government before the American Revolution.
Michelle Poland, 33, a project manager from Southern Maryland who subcontracts map-making projects for the federal government, stood on the fringes of the rally with a large hand-painted sign that read, “Tax slavery sucks.”
“I’m completely against the way my money is being spent,” Ms. Poland said. “If we already have an extreme debt, we shouldn’t spend more money.”
“They’re just doling it out like it’s penny candy,” said her mother, Lynne, who drove up from the Virginia’s Northern Neck to attend the rally.
The anti-tax activists said that the rallies were a mass movement against “hugely wasteful programs like the stimulus and bailouts,” even though one of the most massive bailouts, a $700 billion bill to help stabilize the financial sector last fall, was passed under President Bush, a Republican.