Tea Party Town Hall—a challenge to citizens—part 1

Editor’s note: The following is the first in a two-part series.

By Susan Johnson
Copy Editor

About 250 people gathered at Stockholm Inn Saturday, Feb. 21, for an all-day event hosted by the Northern Illinois Tea Party.

The Tea Party is a national movement, loosely organized, with people of different beliefs, but all share a core belief that America is the land of the free, and that government should play a limited role, which it is presently exceeding with agendas such as the health care bill.

The Feb. 21 event at Stockholm Inn included lunch, purchased in advance by attendees. Jane Carrell, organizer, introduced the speakers. Each speaker was originally limited to 7 minutes, but there was some overlap, especially with a few questions and answers.

Fifteen speakers spoke about a variety of topics that included “Is the Declaration of Independence still relevant?”, “Gov. Quinn’s proposed 67 percent tax hike,” “Did capitalism cause the 2008 recession?”, “The Global Warming Scam,” “The Fair Tax” and “The Cost of Unfettered Immigration,” among others.

Speakers came from various backgrounds: medical, legal, public advocacy, economic and political specialties and Christian perspectives on government.

Dr. Mark Kellen, anesthesiologist, president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, spoke about “Paying for Your Healthcare.” He said the current system has two basic problems: access to medical care and cost.

Kellen said the top-down approach from Washington does not work, and that we need to put people in charge of their health care. The employer-based insurance plan also does not meet people’s needs; he said people should be allowed to purchase insurance across state lines, or through specific groups such as churches.

Kellen said he felt strongly that insurance companies should not be able to change your premium without changing it for everyone in the group.

Jane Carrell of the Northern Illinois Tea Party explained the Put-Back Amendment, which, if added to the Illinois State Constitution, would give us back control of our legislature. Proponents favor a unicameral legislature, term limits and a system that would eliminate gerrymandering of districts to break the stranglehold of a single party.

The Declaration—frame work of our independence

John Danielson, of the Churchill Center and a proponent of the right to life, spoke about the Declaration of Independence.

“Is it still relevant? What is the relation of the Declaration to the Constitution?” Danielson asked. “Which is more important? They are co-equals, but they serve different functions. The Declaration simply lays out the ends or goals or purpose of government. The Constitution is the means or framework though which we try to achieve or accomplish these goals set out in the Declaration. One reason it is still relevant today is that our country is the first country in the history of the world that founded government not by accident or force, but by an idea—found in the Declaration—that all men are created equal.”

The Declaration states we are granted certain “inalienable rights” by our Creator, and that “governments are established among men to secure these rights. … These rights cannot be taken away by government, and we cannot ‘consent’ them away.”

Two speakers shared the topic, “Reaching the Public on Talk Radio.” Dale “Doc” Spurlock and Charles “Cheesehead” Marsden spoke about exercising free speech, alerting the public about coming events, and cautions about the government on WROK talk radio.

Back to the source—the Bible

Bernard Reese Jr., a lawyer and trustee of the Supreme Court History Society, spoke about “The Role of God in our Constitution and Government,” reminding people of the Christian heritage of the founders of this nation.

Referring back to the Declaration, Reese said: “‘Nature’s law, Nature’s God’ had a specific meaning. It meant the Bible, its rules and its morals was to be the established basis for our government. If government is responsible for establishing morals, you don’t have a government. You have a nation without a God—and that’s where we are right now.

“The First Amendment does not trump the Declaration of Independence,” Reese added. “It was designed so that the Constitution would be interpreted through the Declaration…the ones who founded this country in the last century said they were looking to God for the development of and the completion of the contents of the Declaration and to Whom they looked for protection. To that principle they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. This nation was founded on God. George Washington said so. The backbone of the Declaration of Independence is the Bible, but this nation has abandoned God.”

What to do about taxes?

Jim Tobin, president of National Taxpayers United of Illinois, recalled his experience as a former Federal Reserve employee in Cook County. While there, he started a property tax revolt that was successful, and has been fighting taxes since 1976.

Tobin warned: “Gov. Quinn has a 67 percent proposed income tax hike, bill H.B. 174, approved by the state Senate already. We have defeated the income tax increase 16 years in a row.”

Tobin added, “We are no longer a high-tax state, according to the Tax Foundation; we are 30th from the top.” However, Tobin warned that unfunded pension liabilities and unfunded health care liabilities could be disastrous for the state budget.

“What we need to do is have the General Assembly allow new hires [state employees] to save for their own retirement and pay a Social Security tax like we do and get 401(k)s,” Tobin said. “Then, there would be no new unfunded pension liabilities.

“The second thing we need to do,” Tobin continued, “is have them contribute to their pension more than now. It would reduce unfunded pension liabilities by $20,000. Make them pay for retirement… this would save another $30 billion.”

Tobin’s daughter, Christina, now of Sacramento, Calif., represents “Ballot Access—the Forgotten Freedom.” She has been working on this issue for more than 12 years and founded freeandequal.org.

A topic of main concern is “the Top 2 Open Primary,” which is affecting California today. “If it passes in 2010,” she warned, “it will affect everybody.” She refers to it as “the Protect Incumbents Act.”

“It provides that all candidates for Congress and state office should run on the same ballot,” she said. “Only two states have ever tried the Top 2 primary—Washington and Louisiana. From their experience, we know what would happen. For every election, there would be one Democrat and one Republican on the ballot—no one else. The Libertarian Party has filed a lawsuit against it.”

Christina Tobin is now running for California Secretary of State. For information about this issue, see stopthetwo.org.

To be continued

 From the Feb. 24-Mar. 2, 2010 issue

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