COLUMBIA — According to rally organizers, about 4,760 people attended the Midwest FairTax rally Saturday afternoon to speak in favor of the tax plan that would essentially replace the federal income tax with a national sales tax.
The rally was held from 8 a.m to 4 p.m. at the Boone County Fairgrounds. The director for the consumption tax movement in the 9th Congressional District, Colin Malaker, has been busy with not only renting the fairgrounds, but also paying for the travel costs of flying in Georgia State Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, and *Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, better known as "Joe the Plumber."
As he was preparing to speak, Wurzelbacher fielded questions from reporters in the VIP tent. “I’m not big on special treatment. I’d rather stay in a Motel 6,” he said. “If I ever did get an ego, I have a few uncles who would kick my ass.”
Although Wurzelbacher didn’t give specifics about why he supports the consumption tax, he believes it’s the right thing to do, citing how the consumption tax was part of the early American tax system. “Once you understand 'fair tax,' it’s the only thing that makes sense.”
The morning speakers for the event included organizations from a wide spectrum of issues, from Tea Party organizers to immigration.
Occasionally political jokes lightened up the crowd. One ongoing theme was President Barack Obama’s birth certificate verification. The rally however, was not a partisan function, organizers said, and a wide variety of people are part of the movement.
Early in the rally, master of ceremonies Jeff Parnell said the type of people drawn to the consumption tax issue come from a relatively diverse background.
“The people here are probably socially conservative as a group, but we have people on both sides of the political spectrum,” Parnell said.
Bob Ballard, one of the main organizers of Kansas City’s Tea Party, said "Tea Partiers" and consumption tax advocates share a common belief in fiscal responsibility and less government control.
“When we talk about government, we think that entails all the taxes and irresponsibility in spending those tax revenues,” Ballard said. “We want reformation of the tax code, which in our view, is so messed up.”
One notable speaker in the morning was Thomas Tabback, who, along with Wurzelbacher, wrote the book “Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream,” which was available for sale outside the speech hall for $10.
Tabback’s speech had many themes drawing from the American Revolution. He received applause from the growing crowd as more people filed in to listen.
“There’s dark clouds hovering over the country right now. Are we the people ready to rise up and fight for our country?” Tabback said to the crowd. “They have stolen the American dream. The last election was the nail in the coffin.”
Ballard said that although much blame is given to the government and representatives, the fair tax movement isn’t about blaming any particular person. Instead, it’s about reforming the entire system and the expensive programs the federal government wants to enact.
Another speaker, Angelo Miño, talked about how the immigration issue can be affected by the consumption tax.
“The fees and penalties one has to pay for immigration stops some people from pursuing the legal route,” Miño said. As he walked on stage to give his speech, Miño proudly boasted that “although I was born in Ecuador, I’m made in America.”
Evan Bush contributed to this report.