The video for this story is not available, but you can still read the transcript below.
No image

Tax Day Protests Highlight Discord Over Government Spending

Tea Party activists across the country used Thursday's income tax filing deadline as a platform to voice disputes over the growth of government, while the Obama administration stressed the importance of tax-funded programs. Jim Lehrer reports.

Read the Full Transcript


    This was April 15, the deadline for paying income taxes. It sparked new protests over government spending and carried special significance in this election year.

  • MAN:

    We don't want somebody in Washington telling us how we have to live our lives, right?


    Tea Party rallies in Washington and across the country railed against higher taxes and what some called gangster government.

    Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform addressed several thousand protesters.

    GROVER NORQUIST, president, Americans For Tax Reform: We don't have our hands in our neighbors' pockets. We don't ask the government to put their hands in our neighbors' pockets and bring it back to us.


    It is true that we were promised by Mr. Obama and his team from Chicago that they would not raise taxes on average Americans.


    The Washington rally was the last in a series for the Tea Party Express cross-country tour.

    Many in the crowd said, they're fed up.

  • JOHN BURTON, protester:

    The spending has gone up more in one year under Obama than it did in eight years under Bush. It's just nuts. We cannot pay for all of the money that we're spending.

  • SALLY BALL, protester:

    I'm all for taxes. I mean, this is America. We have to run the country. We have to pay our taxes. You know, I'm not for that. But I'm against the health care. They didn't read it. They signed something they didn't read. They don't deserve to stay in office.


    According to the White House, President and Mrs. Obama reported making $5.5 million last year. They paid $1.8 million in federal income tax.

    Overall, the federal tax load for Americans actually fell $173 billion this year, due to tax cuts under Mr. Obama.

    Vice President Biden traveled to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, today to make that point.


    The average tax refund in America is up over $3,000 this year. And, in no small part, it broke that barrier because of the tax breaks that exist in this Recovery Act.


    Better-off Americans will face future tax hikes, as health care reform takes hold and as some of the Bush tax cuts expire in January.

    That prospect was enough to spark competing claims at the U.S. Capitol today.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif., speaker of the house: I think there are some conflicting views right now. Nobody likes to pay taxes. I mean, what are we talking about here? But everybody knows we have a responsibility to do it.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio, minority leader: These Democrats who are up here have the same attitude that Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid and the president have, that Washington knows best. Send us the money, and we will decide what's best for you.


    The debate promised to continue long after tax day and all the way to congressional elections this fall.