Oct. 19 targeted as day of protest against taxes Groups urge taxpayers to demand tax cuts and a balanced budget.

August 07, 1991|By John Fairhall | John Fairhall,Evening Sun Staff

WASHINGTON XHB — WASHINGTON -- If you're tired of taxes, organizers of a national "Taxpayer's Action Day" want you to set aside Oct. 19 to demand tax cuts and a balanced budget.

Among those spearheading the action are some former Reagan administration officials, including one-time diplomat Alan L. Keyes and former Budget Director James Miller. Their timing couldn't be better, it would seem.

There's a recession, the federal budget deficit is growing, House Democratic leaders are pushing for a gasoline tax increase and state governments are awash in red ink. These are prime economic conditions for a revolution, which is what protest leaders hope to launch.

On Monday, they publicized plans for the fall event with a news conference on the theme, "Take Back Your Power." Keyes, a former Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Maryland, is president of the main group, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste.

Keyes said government waste is "robbing families and individuals of the resources they need" and included Maryland in his targets, accusing the Schaefer administration of squandering money on "needless show projects."

John O'Neill, president of the Maryland Taxpayers Association, says Gov. William Donald Schaefer's spending policies will come under attack in at least one of the events scheduled in the state Oct. 19.

O'Neill, who led an unsuccessful campaign last year to limit Baltimore County property tax increases, said there probably will be a rally at the courthouse in Towson.

O'Neill said he didn't know if all of the association's county chapters in Maryland will stage events. "I know Anne Arundel will and probably Carroll."

Nationwide, events are planned in more than 180 cities, surpassing the total of 160 last year during the first such protest, according to Keyes' group.

The protest organizers sounded like populist candidates for office in describing their mission.

Miller, who heads a group called Citizens for a Sound Economy, said that for lawmakers, "there's always something that can be used to justify a tax increase."

J. Peter Grace, who headed President Reagan's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, reminded reporters that his group made 2,478 recommendations for saving money. He said if the government had followed his advice on thrift institution depositors' insurance, "the whole savings and loan mess could have been cleared up for $20 billion. Now it's $500 billion."

Jim Davidson, president of the National Taxpayers Union, admonished reporters to "dig in and challenge these stupid bogus reports" emanating from the government about the deficit.

Davidson and other speakers singled out for scorn last year's budget agreement between Congress and the Bush administration, which, despite setting spending limits and raising taxes, has failed to prevent a surge in the deficit.

The eclectic nature of the anti-tax coalition was underscored by the presence of Mary Beal, who as president of the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts, promised the support of her broadcast colleagues.

Although the protest is ostensibly non-partisan, some speakers implicitly attacked congressional Democrats, who make up the majority in the House and Senate.

None of the speakers suggested any particular government program should be cut. Some bristled at a question about how the poor would be protected if government spending were cut.

"What hurts the poor," said Keyes, "is government programs where 70 to 80 percent of the money washes around the bureaucracy."

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