FairTax rally draws thousands

Sunday, June 14, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 1:37 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 15, 2009
Missouri Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, spoke about his staunch support for the "fair tax" legislation.

This story has been updated to include "Joe the Plumber's" full name.* It is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher.

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." 


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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.

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cwh51 June 14, 2009 | 11:23 a.m.

JOE is not his name.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro June 14, 2009 | 11:39 a.m.

("According to rally organizers, about 4,760 people attended")
According to other sources, it was more like one or two thousand people who actually came in and out of the rally.
(How can we depend on these people being accurate about handling taxes when they can't even count?)

(Report Comment)
T.M. Ford June 14, 2009 | 2:23 p.m.

Typical easy out - attack the persons when your not able to have rationale intelligent conversation about the idea. Fair tax concept is one way to prevent future double digit inflation & unemployment. Fair taxation of SPENDING not income would force us to save which would provide the real capital (versus paper stock market gains) to provide health care for everyone and allow us to put substantial investment in the structures needed for green (wind/solar/hydrogen)power. A 20-30% sales tax on everything versus income tax that is invisible to most persons via payroll deduction will truly be fair. The federal government never reduces employees so the IRS employees can enforce the tax and help with the pre-bates. The fair tax has the potential to make the tax system much more progressive and generationally equitable than we have seen in 60 years.
BTW - I did not attend the rally - regardless if there 400 or 4000 persons the fair tax concept has real potential to improve Americans lives.

(Report Comment)
Matt Y June 14, 2009 | 2:32 p.m.

Is it okay to be amiable to the idea of fair taxing, and still hate joe the plumber for being an irrelevant shill?

(Report Comment)
Bev Martin June 14, 2009 | 10:37 p.m.

Dear Ray,
I can count. I can count how much money my children and grandchildren are going to be paying in income tax under our current system. I can count how many illegals there reportedly are in MO. and their impact on social services. I can count how many older Americans are retiring thus shrinking the tax base - a shrinkage which will result in those left in the wage-earning category will have to make up in higher taxes to pay for government. I can count how many businesses have gone out of business in Columbia and the surrounding areas. I can count how many companies have offshore accounts as well as production plants thanks to the current tax system. What I would really like to be able to count is the number of corporations with their income producing jobs that would come into Missouri when we pass the FairTax. I would rather count money coming into my bank account than money taken out of my paycheck or investments thanks to the IRS. That is the REAL number to count!

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox June 15, 2009 | 3:20 p.m.

20-30% percent sales tax, I have yet to have someone show me how this would save me money. Of course there is a reason for that, because it won't.

(Report Comment)
Bob Burt June 16, 2009 | 1:10 p.m.

I attended the rally to get a better understanding of the Fairtax. Once you totally understand it,you cannot help but support it. It will benefit every citizen and advantage none. I got an opportunity to speak with Joe. He is anything but a shill. He is just one of us!

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro June 16, 2009 | 1:31 p.m.

@Bob Burt:
Except for being another guy on this planet, I can assure you that while you may believe this dude "is just one of us" he is surely not one of me.
I do not consider myself anywhere close to being another "Joe the Plumber."
(Even though I do know how to plumb.)

(Report Comment)

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