A round up on Kaiser Health News: Tea Party Steeps on Capitol Hill.
WASHINGTON — A sea of protesters filled the west lawn of the Capitol and spilled onto the National Mall on Saturday in the largest rally against President Obama since he took office, a culmination of a summer-long season of protests that began with opposition to a health care overhaul and grew into a broader dissatisfaction with government.
Thousands of opponents of the Democrats’ health care legislation are gathered outside the Capitol, for a noon news conference and rally led by Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, and the chants are already underway, echoing across the Mall.
A series of spot interviews suggests that the protesters have come to Washington from all across the country – Texas, Ohio, Oregon and the greater Washington area. It’s a generally older crowd, many in their 50s and 60s, predominantly, white, and many self-identified as Christians. They are fiercely conservative and deeply skeptical of the government, many of them adamantly opposed to abortion rights.
Here’s a report on the event from organizers at Freedom Works, a key player in the tea party protests against “Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Cali.) proposed takeover of the American health care system.” (More on their leader, in this Sunday’s NY Times Magazine, already on line.)
The Washington Post counted 10,000 v. Freedom Works’ 25-30,000. NY Times said “tens of thousands.
The tea-party rally was the latest display of a populist wave of voter discontent among conservatives, which has divided the Republican Party in recent weeks. Protesters said the health-care bill is the latest move by Democrats toward socialism
The Post also noted that nine pro-reform activists were arrested earlier in the day after a sit-in at Sen. Joe Lieberman’s office. The Connecticut senator, who opposes the bill, takes quite a few contributions from his constituent, the Hartford-based insurance industry.