JEFFERSON CITY — About 200 people gathered Tuesday in front of the Missouri Capitol to protest what they say is overspending by the federal government.
The so-called "tea party" is one of dozens across the country scheduled to occur around Wednesday's income tax deadline. They are modeled after the Boston Tea Party staged by American colonists against British taxes in 1773.
Many attendees at Tuesday's event were opposed to what they said is wasteful federal spending, including the stimulus package and recent bailouts of banks and the auto industry. Others were supporting a national sales tax that would replace the federal income tax.
"They're spending what they don't have, which will cause drastic inflation," said Mick Herndon, 45, who works for Modine Manufacturing Co. in Jefferson City. "None of them seem to have taken Economics 101."
Protesters collected Lipton tea bags and put them in a fake ship named "USS Porkulus," consisting of brown-painted wooden panels attached to a trailer. The ship featured a large pig's head as its masthead and included an American flag and large white cross. Many stimulus critics have said the stimulus package is loaded with pork-barrel spending.
Organizers from the group Americans for Prosperity said they would mail the tea to the White House.
Several Republican officials also spoke during the event, which resembled a campaign rally at times.
"What a terrible course the federal government has set us on," said Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. "I know that you're burned up about what's going on in Washington."
Rep. Jim Guest, R-King City, added, "It's time to have a revolution — not with guns or swords but with the pen and the spoken word."
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, also denounced the federal stimulus money but defended the state's use of it in the Missouri budget. He asserted that federal deficit spending would result in inflation.
"Your children and your grandchildren are going to pay for it," Nodler said.
But some Democrats say complaining about higher taxes is hypocritical when people rely on services such as police protection or schools.
"They have to realize that you get what you pay for as far as the government is concerned," said Rep. Ed Wildberger, D-St. Joseph. "I guess the message is there's no free lunch."