Joining a mass of tax protesters in downtown Salt Lake City, Joy and George Robinson waved hand-lettered, his-and-hers signs.
Pollsters take note: Joy Robinson isn't hedging about who she plans to vote for in November. Her sign read: "Vote No All Incumbents." Her husband's sign charged: "Bush's lips lie."More than 200 other people were also at the Federal Building plaza Saturday morning for "Taxpayer Action Day," a protest decrying government waste and high taxes. Rallies were held in all three of Utah's congressional districts and across the nation on Saturday, organizers said, as Congress finally reached approval of a budget compromise in Washington. The measure will raise taxes.
The Salt Lake event, sponsored by a handful of Utah's tax-rollback groups, marked the Robinsons' debut into the arena of political protests. They heard about the rally on the radio and decided to take a stand. "I figured it was better than sitting in my chair, fuming," Robinson said.
The Avenues couple, needless to say, aren't particularly proud of the fact that their votes helped propel President George Bush into office. "I voted for Carter because he promised to balance the budget," George Robinson said. "I voted for Reagan because he promised to balance the budget. I voted for Bush because he promised not to raise taxes."
Brooms - symbolizing a call for a "clean sweep" of government - and red balloons served as props for the event. Another in an election-season series of protests, Saturday's version boasted all the usual fare: speeches, sign-waving, a rendition of the National Anthem and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Maury Modine, a Libertarian candidate for legislative District 45, expressed his views even while reciting the pledge. "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of American, and to the Republic for which it used to stand . . . " Later he hoisted a sign reading: "Congress - the best little whorehouse in Washington."
Saturday's theme was waste in government spending. And protesters offered up solutions. Rather than cutting programs, they said government should enact waste-cutting measures, many of which were identified in a 1984 report by the Grace Commission.
Organizer Gene Bauman said it is criminal that Congress is considering raising taxes, at the same time the legislative body voted itself massive pay raises and charged taxpayers more than $325 billion due to the S&L crisis.
Protesters handed out a report by the CitizensAgainst Government Waste, which includes 107 waste-cutting recommendations projected to save the federal government $305 billion.
Marion Bloomquist, co-chairman of the American Freedom Coalition of Utah, admitted she could think of other things to occupy her time on a beautiful autumn Saturday. "I could be home canning my applesauce," said the grandmother of 16. "My apples are rotting."
But she has invested 12 years as an activist working to change government because of her belief in the power of grass-roots democracy. "At least I want my voice to be heard and to try to inform other people."
Saturday also marked Robin Tetrick's entrance into protest politics. "I really think the government's out of hand and nothing's going to change unless we say something," said Tetrick, of West Valley City. "I've never participated in anything before, but now's the time."
Tetrick, like others at the rally, said she doesn't mind paying taxes, but she doesn't want her money wasted.
"I'm sick and tired of a Congress that can't act," said Jerry Powell, Holladay. That's what prompted him to attend the protest, in hopes of sending a message to government officials. "I want them to stop wasting our money."
Powell has been a longtime financial contributor to the national Republican party, but he intends to give the money to groups working to cut government waste instead.