Thousands in D.C. Protest Gov't Spending

A crowd of people, some carrying signs, are shown during a rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009. Thousands of protesters have packed streets in the nation's capital to protest what they consider the federal government's out-of-control spending. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Last updated at 6:34 p.m. Eastern

Tens of thousands of protesters fed up with government spending marched to the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, showing their disdain for the president's health care plan with slogans such as "Obamacare makes me sick" and "I'm not your ATM."

The line of protesters clogged several blocks near capitol, according to the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. Demonstrators chanted "enough, enough" and "We the People." Others yelled "You lie, you lie!" and "Pelosi has to go," referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Throngs of people waved U.S. flags and held signs reading "Go Green Recycle Congress" and "I'm Not Your ATM." Men wore colonial costumes as they listened to speakers who warned of "judgment day" - Election Day 2010.

It was the largest outpouring of anger yet against the new administration, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes. At one point, the crowd filled all of Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol.

The rally was the final stop of the 30-city Tea Party Express, an anti-government movement which gained steam over the summer, Cordes reports.

Other signs - reflecting the growing intensity of the health care debate - depicted President Barack Obama with the signature mustache of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. Many made reference to Obama as a socialist or communist, and another imposed his face on that of the villainous Joker from "Batman."

Richard Brigle, 57, a Vietnam War veteran and former Teamster, came from Paw Paw, Mich. He said health care needs to be reformed - but not according to Obama's plan.

"My grandkids are going to be paying for this. It's going to cost too much money that we don't have," he said while marching, bracing himself with a wooden cane as he walked.

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FreedomWorks Foundation, a conservative organization led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, organized several groups from across the country for what they billed as a "March on Washington."

Organizers say they built on momentum from the April "tea party" demonstrations held nationwide to protest tax policies, along with growing resentment over the economic stimulus packages and bank bailouts.

Armey and other speakers directed their ire at Pelosi - Armey took a photo, telling the crowd he wanted to be able to prove to her they were there.

"If it's necessary, we'll come back here next year," he said.

Many protesters said they paid their own way to the event - an ethic they believe should be applied to the government. They say unchecked spending on things like a government-run health insurance option could increase inflation and lead to economic ruin.

Terri Hall, 45, of Starke, Fla., said she felt compelled to become political for the first time this year because she was upset by government spending.

"Our government has lost sight of the powers they were granted," she said. She added that the deficit spending was out of control, and said she thought it was putting the country at risk.

Race also became an issue when a black Republican leader denounced African-American politicians that she said had an "affinity" for socialism.

"I'm outraged prominent black politicians use the race card" to cover up their failed policies, said Deneen Borelli.

Lawmakers also supported the rally. Rep. Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican Conference, said Americans want health care reform but they don't want a government takeover.

"Republicans, Democrats and independents are stepping up and demanding we put our fiscal house in order," Pence, of Indiana, told The Associated Press.

"I think the overriding message after years of borrowing, spending and bailouts is enough is enough."

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., also spoke at the rally. DeMint said he'd had enough of "Alice in Wonderland" politicians promising more programs at the risk of financial disaster.

"The president has warned us if we disagree with him he's going to call us out," DeMint said. "Well, Mr. President, we are out."

Norman Kennedy, 64, of Charleston, S.C., said he wants to send a message to federal lawmakers that America is "deeply in debt." He said though he'd like everyone to have free health care, he said there's no money to pay for it.

"We want change and we're going to get change," Kennedy said. "I want to see fiscal responsibility and if that means changing Congress that will be a means to that end."

Other sponsors of the rally include the Heartland Institute, Americans for Tax Reform and the Ayn Rand Center for Individuals Rights. Other scheduled speakers included actor Stephen Baldwin and C. Boyden Gray, who worked under the administration of George H.W. Bush.

By Associated Press Writer Nafeesa Syeed
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