Conservative activists rally opposition to federal spending

America Dollars
‘It’s working.” Conservative activists urge crowd to keep pressure on against Biden infrastructure plan.

President Joe Biden’s spending plan to “Build Back Better” has hit delays in its passage because of pressure from the American people, representatives from Americans for Prosperity told a group gathered in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday night.

The Associated Press is reporting that lawmakers are in “crunch time” talks to get the nearly $1 trillion spending bill through the Senate. Tuesday night, about 50 people came to the Fort Lauderdale Marriott North to hear a pep talk from Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips and the conservative, libertarian organization’s policy advisor, Akash Chougule. Fort Lauderdale’s stop was the second of three Florida stops that are part of the group’s national tour. On Monday, they were in Sebring; Wednesday, in Miami.

“Keep up the pressure,” Chougule said. “Keep contacting your representatives. Keep knocking on doors. It’s working.”

Americans for Prosperity officials from Washington, D.C. address a Fort Lauderdale crowd Tuesday. They are (left to right) Akash Chougule, senior policy advisor, and President Tim Phillips.

Phillips called Democrats’ plan “authoritarian socialism” that could fundamentally lurch the country leftward, similar to what happened with President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” and President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society.” He reminded the crowd about the outcome of the latter effort.

“… A decade later, we had a crumbling country,” Phillips said. “In the late ‘70s, inflation was through the roof. Unemployment was through the roof.”

Chougule said the problem with Biden’s plan is that it proposes more spending without fixing the structural problems that led to this point, where investment is desperately needed in roads and bridges. Any public projects, for example, cost much more than they have to because of rules regarding wages.

“These are things that you won’t hear about unless you come to events like this,” Chougule said.

Dale Gutierrez of Davie wanted to know more.

“This is my first time at a meeting,” he said, explaining he was a retired policeman. “I’m impressed with what I’ve heard. … Is this organization going to be involved with supporting (Donald) Trump?”

Phillips explained that Americans for Prosperity is about policy, not politicians. It’s nonpartisan, he said.

“We do work well with Republicans,” he said, referring Gutierrez to the group’s lawmaker scorecard. That tool rates politicians according to the group’s signature issues, such as school choice, gun control and lowering taxes.

Before the talk began, Gutierrez said that no other issue has engaged people with his group quite like Biden’s infrastructure push. Since the campaign against it started in March, one million people have contacted their Washington lawmakers through AFP’s internet portal or by calling their switchboard.

“These are moments in time when political leadership matters,” he said, hailing efforts of Gov. Ron DeSantis to resist federal measures. “Thank you, Florida. You are a beacon. We need these beacons more and more.” 

On Wednesday, AFP President Phillips will appear in Miami with Grover Norquist, an anti-tax activist and president of Americans for Tax Reform. Phillips’ organization, considered among the most influential of conservative organizations, is famously funded by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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