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‘Tea parties’ send clear message

The drama may not have been what it was on Dec. 16, 1773, when American colonists dumped tea belonging to the British East India Co. into the Boston Harbor due to anger with the British government over the recently passed Tea Act. However, the spirit was the same: frustration, concern and even fear.
While the idea lacked the uniqueness of the original Boston Tea Party, its origin was just as spontaneous. CNBC business commentator Rick Santelli’s tirade about President Obama’s housing plan from the Chicago Board of Trade during which he mentioned the Boston Tea Party last month has sparked ‘tea parties’ throughout the country in protest of wasteful spending.
‘President Obama, are you listening?’ Santelli passionately asked during his live segment as he talked about how the administration’s housing plan would hurt people who have worked hard to keep up the mortgages on their homes.
It remains to be seen if the president heard Santelli ‘ it’s a good bet he at least got wind of the comments, as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs the next day said Santelli didn’t ‘know what he was talking about’ ‘ but plenty of people did.
Since Santelli’s rant, there have been tea party protests throughout the country, from Chicago to St. Louis to New York City to Greenville, S.C., and, yes, the nation’s capital. Hundreds ‘ in some cases, thousands ‘ of people fed up with government waste of tax dollars and mounting debt have taken to the streets in protest, dumping symbolic bottles and packages of tea while displaying signs that read things like, ‘Your mortgage is not my problem’ and ‘No taxation without deliberation.’
These people, frustrated with the $700 billion TARP bailout approved last fall by then-President Bush and Obama’s even larger stimulus package and subsequent earmark-riddled omnibus appropriations bill (which Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, a fellow Democrat, last week voiced opposition to in a piece he penned for The Wall Street Journal), want their voices heard.
Now, Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party rallies are being planned for April 15, the deadline to file tax returns. Unlike the stock market, which has dropped from 13,000-plus last May to 6,626.94 as of the closing bell Friday and almost 25 percent since the beginning of the year, taking the retirement savings of millions with it, it’s a safe bet those voices will be very loud.
Increasing unemployment ‘ now at 8.1 percent, a level not seen in a generation, and estimated to be at 10 percent by the end of 2009 ‘ and continued mortgage foreclosure, coupled with several high-key positions at the U.S. Treasury Department remaining unfilled, the markets becoming more bearish each time Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announces a new plan, and the opposition Republicans wandering aimlessly in the wilderness instead of offering a viable alternative plan, it’s an even safer bet April 15 won’t be the last time those voices are heard.
The modern-day ‘tea parties’ may not be what the original tea party was, but they may end up being the spark that ignites a movement that reminds government of its purpose and, therefore, just as important.