By Ralph Ellis
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgians boiling with anger about taxes, the health care overhaul and President Barack Obama will pour into downtown Atlanta Thursday for what organizers predict will be one of the biggest tea party protests in the nation.
The party at the State Capitol begins at 6 p.m., but buses and car caravans are expected to arrive hours beforehand. For politicians, the theme is ominous: “We Will Remember in November."
Julianne Thompson of Suwanee, state coordinator for the Georgia Tea Party Patriots, said she expects 5,000 to 10,000 people – about the same number as a year ago. The state organization has about 100,000 members and many more sympathizers, she said.
About 20 other tea parties are scheduled in smaller towns across the state, from Jasper to Valdosta. Tea Parties will be held across the nation.
In a warm-up on Wednesday, about 300 people gathered in Roswell's square Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of the North Fulton tea party movement.
This was a relaxed affair, with many people positioning lawn chairs around the gazebo well before the party started. While organizers called the event patriotic, not political, many signs in the crowd showed a political edge: “Obama equals socialism. Just ask a Russian” and “Obama Pelosi Reid – The Axis of Taxes.”
Dr. Scott Barbour, an orthopedic surgeon, recalled his days as a young doctor at a Veterans Administration hospital. He said doctors had to follow so many prescribed rules that patient care suffered.
“It’s not a model we want to pattern ourselves after,” he said. “They’re constantly trying to ration the costs.”
Virginia Graham, state director of Americans for Prosperity, said she’ll speak Thursday at tea parties in Newnan and Dublin rather than attend the Atlanta tea party. She went last year.
“It became about show business rather than the real grass roots,” she said.
Nationwide, the Tea Party Patriots has about 15 million members, Thompson said.
The keynote speaker in Atlanta will be Ginni Thomas, chairman of Liberty Central and wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Others appearing in Atlanta include Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition; Tabitha Hale, an activist and political blogger; Larry Wachs, an Atlanta radio personality; and Jonathan Krohn of Duluth, the 15-year-old author of “Defining Conservatism: The Principles That Will Bring Our Country Back.”
Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia is reintroducing his Tax Code Termination Act, which would rewrite the U.S. Tax Code with simpler language and rules. Isakson and co-sponsor Sen. Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, first introduced the legislation in 2007.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Atlanta radio personality Neal Boortz plan to promote Boortz' Fair Tax proposal, which would eliminate the IRS and replace income taxes with a national sales tax.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and others earlier this week introduced the Taxpayer Assistance Act of 2010, which would, among other things, make it easier for the IRS to enter into repayment negotiations with people who don't pay their taxes on time.
Staff writer Bob Keefe contributed to this article.