SC protesters blast tax spending

COLUMBIA -- To protest Tax Day, more than 2,000 people, including stimulus opponents, abortion opponents, Christian-schools advocates, people calling to support the troops, and others demonstrated today at the South Carolina Capitol.

"So many of you all are patriots just as real as the patriots of long ago," said Gov. Mark Sanford, who was hailed as the group's champion for his steadfast opposition to President Obama's federal stimulus plans.

The Republican governor has drawn national attention for his refusal to accept a $700 million portion of the nearly $8 billion in federal dollars allotted to the state, unless state legislators paid an equal amount down on the state's debt.

Throughout the controversy, Mr. Sanford has repeatedly denied he is running for president, despite speculation raised by Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman and others.

Earlier in the day the Senate Finance Committee met to discuss alternatives to the current impasse with the governor.

The Capitol steps demonstration today was preceded by a similar event at the beginning of the month.

At that time a few hundred educators from across the state gathered to urge Mr. Sanford to accept the $700 million, because most of it was to be used on education.

"That group was a whole lot smaller than this group," he told the crowd today.

U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint also addressed the demonstrators, some of whom held signs that said jobs, not government spending, was the answer to the nation's problems.

"They're spending us into a deep hole," said the Republican senator.

One of the event's organizers, Britton Clark, warned those gathered, "This crisis is never going to be over."

He said spending taxpayer dollars and increasing the federal debt was the wrong approach.

Sarita Chourey can be reached at (803) 727-4257 or sarita.chourey@morris.com.

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