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Posted: February 17, 2009

Stimulus protest dubbed ‘$30,000-a-Plate-Pork-Roast’

Conservatives attack Obama plan on the steps of the Capitol

Mike Taylor

Not everyone was thrilled with Barack Obama’s visit to Denver on Tuesday to sign a $787 billion stimulus bill, of which about $700 million is expected to benefit Colorado.

A few miles south of the stimulus-signing festivities, several hundred protesters gathered on the steps of the state Capitol for what Jon Caldara of the Golden-based Independence Institute dubbed a “$30,000-A-Plate Pork Roast,” referring to the abundance of items unrelated to economic recovery in the massive bill. (Watch the video.)

The $30,000 referred to what Caldara says every American family effectively will sign over to the government when all is said and done, with the stroke of Obama’s pen Tuesday.

Attendees of Tuesday’s stimulus protest were invited to sign and take home 4-foot-wide checks made out to the federal government for $30,000. One woman, after signing her check, said she might put it in her front yard to show her neighbors what the stimulus bill would cost them.

The stimulus bill has been criticized for the hastiness in which it was put together, leaving little time for it to be assessed. Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin has dubbed the stimulus bill “the Generational Theft Act of 2009,” and radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh constantly refers to it as the "Porkulus Package.”

Clearly though, Obama is merely the inheritor of this battered economy, and now he’s saddled with the monumental task of digging us out of it.

Why Obama would travel all the way to Denver to sign the stimulus bill today, rather than sign it in Washington, as if it's something to celebrate? The reason most often cited is that he wanted pick the most picturesque and symbolically appropriate venue (Colorado's going to be a big recipient of new-energy funding). But the signing of this bill is a crisis-management measure, a confession of past financial irresponsibility, not a victory of any sort, not a celebration.

But one analyst, Scott Lacy of Chicago, had a good point when he said this is not a celebration by Obama so much as visible governing. He likened Obama’s appearance in Denver to George Bush in the aftermath of 9-11 standing atop a pile of rubble in New York, vowing to rebuild what was destroyed.

And so Obama chose Denver to stand atop the pile of rubble that is the U.S. economy, with a bold but far from certain plan to rebuild a once-proud free-enterprise system that will be anything but free to restore.

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Mike Taylor is the managing editor of ColoradoBiz. He writes about small-business money issues and how startups are launched. Email him at

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Readers Respond

Don, You make a good point about asking sources to account for the numbers they throw out to the public. I did ask Jon Caldara (it's in the accompanying ColoradoBiz TV video) how he arrived at the $30,000 figure. He said it came from the U.S. Budget Office or calculations made based on numbers released by that office. He's also basing the $30,000 as a cost per family, not per individual, and he's assuming there will be additional billions devoted to follow-up stimulus measures, which there will certainly be. By Mike T. on 2009 02 18
Hmmmm... I wonder where these protester's were the last 8 years as our deficit was growing out of control and PORK was being served as as a daily entree? Perhaps if the diet of Washington and Wall Street had been different during the previous administration, this administration wouldn't be left with trying to figure out how to divey-up whats left! By D. Anthony on 2009 02 18
I'm obviously missing something in this article that refers to a $30,000 bill per citizen of the U.S. The stimulus bill was for $787B and the population of the U.S. is roughly 300M. My math has $787B divided by 300M being less than $3,000 (really about $2,620). It still is an expensive dinner, but not nearly as bad as the article suggests. By don manuell on 2009 02 18

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