Hundreds of tea party supporters took to the U.S. Capitol lawn Wednesday to rally against the Internal Revenue Service about a month after it learned the tax agency had inappropriately flagged tea party groups for additional reviews.
But the protest soon became about a lot more than the IRS, with speakers and protesters ticking off a laundry list of government agencies they said needed to be reformed or abolished, including the Justice Department, State Department, National Security Agency, Environmental Protection Agency and National Labor Relations Board.
About a dozen protesters held Revolutionary War-era "Don't Tread On Me" flags, while one man waved an National Rifle Association banner and another held a sign about securing the border with Mexico.
"Auditing the IRS is not enough," protester Mike Reeves, a self-proclaimed follower of controversial political activist Lyndon LaRouche, told Whispers while holding an "Impeach Obama" sign. "The president has got to be removed like [President] Nixon was."
Bruce Anderson, who traveled to D.C. from Aberdeen, Md., to attend the rally, said he came because he was fed up with progressive policies being foisted upon him by politicians. "Basically people on one side of the fulcrum have decided they have a right to tell us how to live their lives," he said, while holding a sign that read "Liberals - who the HELL do you think you are?"
"And they're using every tool the government has to try to force that down our throats," he said.
As protesters waved flags and sang patriotic songs, more than a dozen lawmakers took the stage to talk about how they'd initiate reform. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., told protesters he was working to ensure Attorney General Eric Holder did not oversee the investigation of the IRS, while Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said she wanted the tax agency abolished altogether. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-NC, said the problem went further than just the IRS.
"I ran because I was fed up. But when I was campaigning I didn't know the half of it," he told the crowd, before listing off what he said were the Obama administration's mounting scandals: the government response to the attack on Benghazi, the Justice Department's Fast and Furious operation and probe of the Associated Press, and an alternate email account used by the chief of the EPA.
His sentiments were echoed by Jenny Beth Martin, who heads the Tea Party Patriots, which organized the protest.
"This government is out of control ... and they act as if they live in a country where they are above the law," she said. "We are here today to prove they are wrong."
The crowd roared.