‘Revolt’ wheeling its way to Washington

Published 4:28 pm Thursday, September 16, 2010

Staff Writer

A collection of conservative activists will converge on Washington on Sept. 29 as part of a multi-city “Spending Revolt Bus Tour” designed to draw voters’ attention to government deficits.
The tour will be led by the Republican-allied Americans for Prosperity-North Carolina, an issues-advocacy group operating under the national banner of parent organization Americans for Prosperity.
AFP’s tour bus will stop for a rally in Washington from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. on the scheduled day at Festival Park.
The tour will zero in on “the massive spending spree the politicians are on,” Dallas Woodhouse, state director of AFP, told the Washington Daily News in an interview.
Woodhouse said he will speak at the rally, along with representatives of two conservative think tanks, the John Locke Foundation and the John W. Pope Civitas Institute.
Woodhouse chided state Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare, of Manteo as “the king of outrageous spending.”
He said the fact that Basnight represents Beaufort County in the Senate is one of the reasons AFP chose Washington as a stop on the tour.
“As a group, we don’t do what’s known as express advocacy,” Woodhouse pointed out. “We don’t say vote for, vote against. That’s not our job.”
Hood Richardson, a GOP Beaufort County commissioner from Washington, is running against Basnight.
“I’m saying cut spending, don’t raise taxes,” Richardson said, when asked for his response to AFP’s mission. “Cut spending — that’s why it’s important.”
AFP seeks to educate people on issues, and it plans to make government spending a top priority this year, according to Woodhouse.
“What we hope is that spending becomes the main issue,” Woodhouse stated. “We want it to become politically unpalatable to spend gobs and waste taxpayer money. We want it to be as politically unacceptable in polite company as drunk driving is.”
AFP is welcome to come by, but its representatives should be able to provide “real, viable, concrete ideas,” not rhetoric, said Cathy Gaynor, a volunteer at the Beaufort County Democratic Party’s election-year headquarters on Market Street.
“As an individual, I can welcome them coming,” Gaynor said. “It’s a free country.”
She wondered aloud where these conservative demonstrators were during eight years of spending under the administration of Republican President George W. Bush.
“The Democrats have been working in the trenches to try and reverse what was done by George Bush and the Republicans, without much help from the Republicans,” Gaynor said.
Gaynor echoed U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., of Wilson, who addressed the Beaufort County Democratic executive committee on Saturday.
In his speech, Butterfield said the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped stabilize a freefalling economy, but it passed with zero Republican votes.
“The Republicans made a political decision to be the party of ‘No,’” he said, sounding a theme often aired by the White House.
Butterfield said the federal government enjoyed a $230 billion surplus when Democratic President Bill Clinton left office.
The surplus was erased as Bush, the GOP — and supportive Democrats he didn’t mention — launched measures including the war in Iraq, which has cost thousands of lives and $1 trillion, according to Butterfield.
Butterfield is running for re-election this year. The congressman represents around half of Beaufort County. His Republican opponent is Ashley Woolard of Washington.
In August 2009, some of Americans for Prosperity’s allies and supporters gathered near the Washington waterfront as Woodhouse presided over a rally opposing the health-care reform plans favored by President Barack Obama.
The website Sourcewatch.org has reported the national AFP was “one of the lead organizations” in the anti-tax “tea parties” now so prevalent on the American political scene.