By Leslie Jorgensen
THE COLORADO STATESMAN
Republicans, Libertarians and antitax conservatives went hog wild — from promenading pot-bellied pigs to protesting pork spending — at a rally against the economic stimulus package — the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The rabble-rousing protest on the west side of the state Capitol was timed to coincide with President Barack Obama’s ceremonious signing of the $787 billion bill at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Tuesday, Feb. 17.
Several hundred protesters chanted, “No more pork!” and pumped placards bearing slogans such as, “Will your stimulus check bounce?” and colossal-size $30,000 checks, symbolizing each American’s share of the debt created by the stimulus package.
One extreme placard — bearing a swastika printed in the first letter of OBAMA — drew criticism from several demonstrators.
Billed as an opportunity to “Come Roast a Pig — and the Porkulus Bill” in thousands of e-mailed invitations, the rally produced pork-laced speeches, dished pork sandwiches and paraded a few pot-bellied pigs, including Nathan, who posed for photos.
It’s the first of several protests being organized against policies emerging from a presidency and Congress controlled by the Democrats.
Speakers included Republican former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, of the 6th Congressional District; Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams; Jim Pfaff, state director of Americans for Prosperity; Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute; Michelle Malkin, a Fox News contributor and columnist; Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction; and Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch.
Pfaff said the $787 billion package “is laden with pork-barrel spending and payoffs to liberal special interest
“We need to send a message to President Obama and the Congress to stop mortgaging our nation’s future away. They need to get the message that politically motivated government spending hurts our economy and kills jobs and prosperity!” said Pfaff.
Calling the stimulus package, “a turkey,” Wadhams declared a Republican revolution to take back the country. “This is not the end of the fight! This is the beginning! We’re coming back!” he exhorted.
Wadhams said history was made last week when 177 Republican House members and 38 Republican Senate members voted against the bill. Penry agreed that the bill’s passage in Congress on Feb. 12 will be viewed as a pivotal moment in history.
“History will remember this vote … as the moment when Republicans reclaimed the mantel of fiscal discipline that is rightfully ours. It is also a moment of reawakening,” asserted Penry. “Now, we dust ourselves off and get back to the fight for the future of this great country.”
Senate Minority Whip Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, said the federal stimulus package is historic because “it’s the biggest spending bill of all time.”
Spence said Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate President Harry Reid “are risking America’s very solvency at a deeply troubling time for our nation’s economy — all in the hope that it will restore growth and give the economy a lift.”
“Voters will be very unforgiving if they feel betrayed in the end,” said Spence, predicting what will happen if the stimulus package fails and stifles the struggling economy instead. Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, questioned the logic in using “credit” to solve the economic crisis that erupted on Wall Street in late September. He noted that major causes of the economic decline were high-risk loans, increasing numbers of home foreclosures and overextended credit.
“If the problem is that people are borrowing too much on credit cards and on home equity, how does it help things for the federal government to shove us aside and show us what a world-class credit binge looks like?” asked Mitchell.
The stimulus package is “one of the biggest, most expensive mistakes in the history of American domestic policy,” he said.
“Somebody’s trying to pick your pocket,” warned McNulty.
“I felt it!” yelled a voice in the crowd.
“I know you felt it! I felt it, too!” McNulty yelled back.
“It is absolutely poor public policy to put this burden not only on our working families but on future generations. That’s an $800 billion check cashed on an account that doesn’t have that money,” declared McNulty, adding that the repayment will “come straight out of your pockets.”
Caldara sarcastically questioned Obama’s ability to walk the talk.
“This president has decided to fly his corporate jet all the way to Denver to sign this bill — but he cares about the environment. He cares about accountability. He cares about our future,” said Caldara, who tore up several dollar bills in protest.
“This is an act of civil disobedience,” Caldara told the crowd.
Tancredo said that president could have created more jobs for Americans if he had chosen to “reduce taxes and stop illegal immigration into this country.”
Each speech elicited roars from the crowd.
“Obama is forcing our children and grandchildren into slave labor,” said Joe Saebi, of Denver, waving a poster that read, “We the People will keep our money, guns and religion — Obama, you can keep the change.”
Doris Brandts, of Elbert County, said that although she’s a newcomer to political activism, the stimulus package stirred her to come to the state Capitol.
“I adamantly disagree with the stimulus package,” said Brandts. “Because of this, I plan to get involved in the Republican Party and clubs.”
“This rally shows the will of the people — and I’m just an angry American,” said Lawrence Depenbusch, an architect and developer from Arapahoe County. “The stimulus package is just spreading the pork around.”
“If you like standing in line at the Post Office, you’ll love standing in line for health care,” said a protester from Summit County who preferred not to have his name printed.
“Barack Obama is a commie,” declared the man. “I don’t want my name revealed because I don’t want Obama thugs coming after me like they did ‘Joe the plumber.’”
Mark your calendars for the next rally, same place.
The Gadsden Society announced plans to hold the “A Celebration of Liberty for All!” rally at 2 p.m. on March 1. Scheduled speakers include Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, CU Regent Tom Lucero and political activist Ross Kaminsky.
The society is named after Christopher Gadsden, an original Sons of Liberty member who designed the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag that featured a striking rattlesnake. The flag has become a symbol of the patriots fighting the American Revolution — as well as the patriot movement revolting against President Bill Clinton’s administration
in the 1990s.