Taxing moments: Perriello gets earful from Tea Party

news-perrielloteaCongressman Tom Perriello (D-Ivy, red tie) speaks to around 50 constituents.

The clock had just struck 4pm last Friday, and it was time for Congressman Tom Perriello's (D-Ivy) Tea Party. About 50 guests showed up to his office, and while they came bearing gifts, this was no crumpets-and-cucumber-sandwiches affair.

They gave the freshman Representive a book by conservative commentator Neil Boortz–- and a petition bearing the signatures of over 1,000 citizens concerned about Congressional handling of the economic crisis. These guests were from the Jefferson Area Tea Party. Fresh off of their April 15 Tax Day rally at the Charlottesville Pavilion, they were not happy.

"President Obama's basic philosophy is socialism," said one person, "and it is destroying the backbone of this country!"

"My husband just got laid off," said another. "We've played by the rules all these years, and now we have zilch!"

"It's not future generations who are paying for this spending," said a third. "We're paying for it right now!"

Such was the tenor of the 45-minute, May 8 meeting in Perriello's downtown Charlottesville office. However, anyone expecting a rhetorical smackdown would have left sorely disappointed.

After a question about a recent Congressional pay raise was punctuated by a collective "yeah!" Perriello calmly noted that the choir was preaching back to him.

"I actually agree with you on that," said Perriello, "and that's why I voted to freeze our salaries."

When another attendee noted that the federal budget will drive the country further into debt, Perriello noted that he voted against the budget in its final form.

Finally, when another protester bemoaned the banking bailout, Perriello asked aloud, "And who was it who voted against that?" Before anyone could reply, Perriello answered his own question.

"Oh, that's right," Perriello said. "That was me!"

"You do realize," replied one man, "that you're in disagreement with the majority of your party."

"It wouldn't be the first time," Perriello replied.

As the meeting dispersed, Perriello told the Hook that he was not simply playing to the crowd.

"The funny thing is I actually agree with the principles of the Tea Party; they're just eight years too late," said Perriello. "It was in 2001, when Congress started deregulating and stopped trying to balance the budget, that everything went off the rails."

Not that Perriello minds mixing it up with constituents.

"This was fun," he said. "I'm always excited to engage people when people take their civic duty seriously."

For his part, Tea Party chair Bill Hay says that while he didn't always agree with the congressman, he left the meeting satisfied.

"We asked a lot of tough questions, and he answered them," said Hay. "For that, I have a great amount of respect for the man."

Not that the Tea Party plans to shrink away.

"Oh, we'll be back," said Hay. "This is just the beginning."


"After a question about a recent Congressional pay raise was punctuation by a collective ââ?¬Å?yeah!” Perriello calmly noted that the choir was preaching back to him."

Good ol' MHS education. ;)

I'm confused could you give me a link to this bill so I could read it.

Should have ask the lawyer, how he could co-sponser a bill that goes againt the constitution in singling out americans to have their bonus' taxed at 99%, the same bonus' that the writer of the bill protected in the welfare bill that periello voted for before he voted against.

H.R. 1586 - 90% was the rate.

ââ?¬Å?The funny thing is I actually agree with the principles of the Tea Party; they’re just eight years too late,” said Perriello. ââ?¬Å?It was in 2001, when Congress started deregulating and stopped trying to balance the budget, that everything went off the rails.”

Not so funny, but unfortunately dead-on accurate. This is the core of why the "tea partiers" and so-called "conservatives" carry little weight with most of America. They sat by and let Bush run roughshod over our economy, our liberty, and our national dignity. It is only now, with a Democrat in the White House and an emerging veto-proof majority in Congress that they have found their voices.

Now I know many will claim "but I didn't like what Bush did, either - this isn't about Democrats or Republicans!" Yet, interestingly, there were no such protests until now.

The time to "party" is long past.


Ha! Thanks. Keep up the good work.

The difference between prior events and now is a matter of degree. Yes, prior administrations have run up the debt with excessive spending. The current administration, however, has taken it to an unbelievable level---that's what is driving people to protest now that didn't do it in prior years. There's also a large disconnect between what the administration says and what it does. It claims to seek transparency in government, but then rams the "stimulus" bill so hard that no one can take a day to read it or the sky will fall----then the president delays signing it for several days to arrange a photo op in another state.

Go ahead and continue to dismiss those who are raising their voices now and use ad hominem attacks rather than debating on the merits.....the pendulum will swing back.

Let's see Bob, who was the President that told us we had to move urgently without debate to protect national security and invade another nation, all but calling anyone who disagreed then (and many times later) unpatriotic? When it comes to being ram-like, Obama is no different than Bush. Maybe you're just not liking being on the other side of the policy now. What's wrong with the Tea Party crowd and all party zealots is their inability to continue listening to the other side. It's a shame we can't strive for consensus, preferring the shallow narcissism of sharing company only with others with shared views.

Yikes, I'm not really sure what your point is....are you arguing that because Bush was wrong in not listening to those who disagreed with him that its ok for Obama to be equally wrong? Then you seem to state that we should strive for consensus but reject a different point of view and proceed with an ad hominimen attack on those who choose to exercise their rights of free speech?

You might be surprised to know I agree that we should not criticize those who opposed the war as "unpatriotic". Many people had and continue to have legitimate concerns about that decision. I think its great to work for consensus, but sometimes consensus is simply the lowest common denominator. Did the founders of our country strive for consensus when they declared indepdendence? Studies show that most people in the colonies at the time would have preferred to not go that route because of the difficulties it would present.

all are to blame. bush spent like an idiot, and also started the bailouts with his 750billion plan with paulson. obama has added to it, not sure if he had any choice.

however i love the new math of these teabaggers; bush increases the defecit by 10x almost every year, but they blame it on obama.

bush presided over 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, yet somehow he, cheney and their people claim they keep the country safe?

any my personal favorite, obama is responsible for the collaspe of the stock market, as it crashed once he took a lead in the polls in october.

lets see, bush and repubs are not responsible for what happened in the 1st and last year of their reign, and obama is responsible for everything a year before get took office.

got it

For all his talk of controlling spending, Tom Periello has yet to take a strong public stand against his party's ruinous budgets.

Most troubling, Periello does not admit that this administration's planned deficits dwarf those of earlier administrations. Under the Bush administration, the deficit bottomed out at about $400 billion in fiscal year 2004, and then fell to about $165 billion in fiscal year 2007. The deficit then ballooned again to about $450 billion in fiscal year 2008.

The Obama administration's deficits? $1.84 trillion (yes, trillion) in fiscal year 2009. After this year, the deficits will begin to fall, but will rise back up to $1.2 trillion in fiscal year 2019, according to estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. At no point will the deficit fall below $600 billion.

That is what has spurred hundreds of thousands of citizens
across the nation to protest.

See this chart for more information:

Dear Mequa,

You're absolutely right. I, my copy editor, and my 10th Grade English teacher are mortified.

Note the correction above.

Go Mustangs,

The other ridiculous thing about the tea partiers is how their movement is largely a media creation. That guy ranting on CNBC was the spark and then FoxNews fanned the flames of this so-called uprising, but these people are little more than couch potatoes.

Maybe they didn't complain to Bush because they felt he wouldn't listen. Maybe they think Obama will.
I didn't hear about the plans for the Tea Party on Fox or CNN. I heard about it on CBS.

Wow, I continue to be underwhelmed by the level of discourse about these issues. Derogatory references to groups with whom you disagree (teabaggers), misstatement and misrepresentation of facts, oversimplifications, etc. Oh, and it does happen on both sides of the issue.

And we complain because people in Washington are not truly working together constructively to solve problems......