Conservatives blast Boehner tax increases; other Republicans withhold criticism
December 4th, 2012
06:51 PM ET
6 years ago

Conservatives blast Boehner tax increases; other Republicans withhold criticism

(CNN) - Leading conservatives blasted a controversial new House Republican proposal that breaks with years of GOP orthodoxy by calling for more taxes to be paid by wealthier Americans as part of a broader deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

But in a sign of how politically treacherous and awkward the offer has become, top Senate Republicans - many of them conservatives - withheld harsh criticism of the plan even as they refused to embrace it.

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In fact, despite their general misgivings about approving tax increases, they gently nudged negotiations forward, in apparent recognition that any final agreement would include higher taxes – at least in some form - as President Barack Obama demands.

The proposal, part of a $2.2 trillion deficit reduction package, would raise new revenue by eliminating unspecified deductions and other loopholes from the tax code. While it does not call for an increase in tax rates - as Democrats want – it still drew fire from conservatives like Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, who said the "offer of an $800 billion tax hike will destroy jobs and allow politicians in Washington to spend even more."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said it would be "a huge mistake to raise taxes. It will cripple the economy."

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell sidestepped the question when at a press conference he was asked directly if he backed the plan, which was presented Monday by House Speaker John Boehner and other House leaders.

"I commend the House Republican leadership for trying to move the process along and getting to a point where, hopefully, we can have a real discussion," he said.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the third-ranking Senate Republican, echoed the sentiment.

"I'm not prepared to come out and embrace it or support it other than to say it's a good faith effort. It's serious and it ought to be taken seriously by the White House."

Another Senate GOP leader, Roy Blunt of Missouri, said it would be counter productive for Republican senators to become "outside commentators" while negotiations are taking place between Obama and Boehner.

"I don't have position on the Boehner proposal," Blunt said.

Charles Grassley of Iowa, a senior Republicans on the Finance Committee, was one of a only a few GOP senators who said he would support Boehner's plan to raise revenue but only if there is a "willingness on the part of Democrats to accept spending cuts that are three to one or four to one."

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative grassroots group, released a statement late Monday that said, "Sadly this plan leaves conservatives wanting."

Heritage Action for America, an advocacy group affiliated with the conservative think tank, sent an e-mail to supporters urging them to contact their members of Congress and oppose the compromise.

"Not only are Republican leaders asking their members to go back on their promise not to raise taxes on the American people, but they appear unwilling to fight for the bold entitlement reforms that won them the House in 2010," the e-mail stated.

But two senior House GOP aides cited criticism from the right as evidence that House Republican leaders are being more responsible in the negotiations than the president. They argued they are giving ground taxes - on an issue that they knew full well would inflame their base.

"It points to the fact that this is serious credible proposal," one of these aides told CNN, referring to the critical statements from some outside groups and conservative lawmakers. "The reason the president isn't meeting the same kind of criticism is because he's proposing a Christmas list for the left, and we can't do this if he's not willing to break with his comfort zone."

This aide added, "if we don't see some movement from the White House then it proves that the president agrees with liberals that going off the cliff isn't' all that bad."

It was notable that in addition to Boehner, the entire House GOP leadership team signed onto the Republican counter offer on Monday, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

Ryan gained national prominence as GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's running mate, and has earned a reputation as a leading conservative voice on tax and budget issues. The show of unity was designed to help stem defections among the rank and file and head off potential questions about differences in strategy among top leaders.

South Carolina Republican Rep Trey Gowdy said he was still reviewing the proposal and needs more details, but said that "Paul Ryan's opinion carries great weight with many of us."

Freshman Georgia Republican Rep Austin Scott said he wants to see a deal that reduces the debt more, but said he still needs to see the final cost of the House Republican plan.

But Scott praised House GOP leaders for putting more ideas on the table, and told reporters he doesn't believe Obama is sincere about finding compromise with Republicans.

"We'd like to see him coming with his proposals instead of sending subordinates like (Treasury) Secretary (Timothy) Geithner, who quite honestly has low credibility with most of us including myself," Scott said.

House GOP aides recognize that they are likely to lose votes from conservatives if they are able to get to a final deal with the White House, but they are working closely now to keep their message consistent.

Now that they have responded to the White House demand to see a Republican plan they will continue to press for the administration to engage and show what kind of cuts to entitlement programs Obama could accept.

Blunt, who served as top vote counter in the House under Boehner, told CNN that he believes that the speaker needs to get "a majority of the majority" of Republicans to vote for a final deal so that Boehner has a strong hand to deal with other big issues in the future.

Filed under: Republicans
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. BlackDynamite

    The GOP base really doesn't give a damn about this country. Everybody knows that.....

    December 5, 2012 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  2. dersu

    Some Republicans no longer believe in democracy. They believe in money and nothing else. If they were to listen to the current majority and were truly believers in democracy, they would have no choice but to agree to raise taxes for the wealthy.

    December 5, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  3. ryoung9

    Look, Repulicans, you lost. Your best play at this point is to win favor from the general public by resolving the immediate situation quickly, with the least "damage" you can afford. Lose to fight another day. We do need austerity in this country but not yet. We need to try to grow ourselves out of this situation first, and that will only occur if the majority of the public (the middle class) does better at the expense of the the minority of the pubic (the 2%) for the time being. Times may change again in the future, but for now that's the way it has to be. Deal with it,move on, and you might have a chance of winning favor for the next election cycle.

    R from Iowa

    December 5, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  4. Paula

    Some people only believe in democracy when the majority agrees with them. Otherwise, they believe in revolution.

    December 5, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  5. The Doug

    Doomed if we do, doomed if we don't.

    December 5, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  6. Alicia

    Yeah, makes great sense. Raise taxes on the wealthy which are probably about 5% of the total population so the globalist hijacked government we now have can start decimating them like they have our middle class.

    This tax increase won't be enough to even pay the daily interest on the deficit.

    It's time to organize folks & kick these losers out of Washington... ALL of them and go for a restart but first what needs to be done is to cut the head off of the snake,,, Bilderberg.

    December 5, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  7. SSampson

    Why is the GOP portion of 95% of the population (in a democracy) so concerned about the tax rate of 5% ??(yes – I am talking about more than the '1%')

    Why are Republicans SO concerned about going to the TAX rates Ronald used in the 80's, while at the same time worshiping his very essence? (Ronnie left the NRA too – hmm)

    Why is it they are simply called 'tax hikes' when they aren't even going back to their previous levels??

    Even with the hikes, this group has paid FAR more in the past –

    And by the way.... the rich don't create jobs – DEMAND creates jobs – demand is higher when the majority can spend more. Do you think that any business owner would reduce employment if their sales increased regardless of their tax payments?? – NO – and sales increase when there is a higher demand. Higher demand occurs when MORE people have MORE money (95% of the population can buy more cars than 5% of the population ever would)

    December 5, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  8. Smeagel4T

    Poor Boehner. Trying desperately to not go down in history as the biggest Speaker of the House failure.

    December 5, 2012 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  9. dave

    Everybody needs to calm down and let the system play itself out. The President won on a promise to raise taxes primarily on the wealthier of Americans. A great many Republican congresspeople won election based on promises of no tax raises. When they get together, there will be no comprimise, we will reach and go over the "fiscal cliff" and then Americans can get ready for the next election cycle. Then it will be time to decide what most people would like to see different from January, the Presidents plan or Mitch McConnells.

    December 5, 2012 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  10. nomad2003

    Obama did not accept a balanced approach of revenue and cuts... O just does not want to cut anything except the senors... 700 billlion cut in Obamacare and 400 billion more in the next 10 years....when more and more senors are getting to that age...

    why do we need medicare prior to retirement age since there is Obamacare?

    December 5, 2012 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  11. Troy

    Don't give the government more of our money to waste on crap projects they don't care about. We need real solutions to our problem. The house/senate and white house are the root of this problem. They need come up with real solutions for all Americans.

    December 5, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  12. Rogue351

    Let me remind all of the conservatives out there the election is over. Your bid for conservative domination failed. Now is time for compromise. The republican elected officials had been on a four year vacation and now it is time to get back to work and earn your wage.

    December 5, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  13. volsocal

    We lost. Give the Dems whatever they want on taxes. Hold the line on spending cuts by not raising the deficit ceiling. How simple can I make it?

    December 5, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  14. The Left Wing

    Maybe conservatives will be more malleable once taxes go up on Jan. 1.

    December 5, 2012 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  15. jaimie

    What unspecified tax deductions............. My home better not

    December 5, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  16. BJRTexas

    At least, Boehner is making an effort to meet Obama with a compromise. Good for him! Unfortunately, his fellow Republicans just cannot get over themselves and understand what the word "compromise" means. Shame on them! We have to have some sort of meeting of the minds in order to avoid this fiscal catastrophe.

    December 5, 2012 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  17. Bob

    I take back at least half the evil I ever said about Boehner. It is also no surprise to learn that there are even more vile creatures lurking in the halls of Congress, growling and snarling at anyone who expects their wealthy friends and patrons to pay taxes just like the rest of us. But their vocal outrage is beginning to sound more like a death rattle than a threat, more like the bark of an old, toothless attack dog that still goes through the motions of guarding the junkyard but is clearly incapable of doing so.

    December 5, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  18. neal

    the JUMBO COIN option ....would solve ALL OF THIS.....

    mint 20 platinum bullion coin's..worth $1 trillion EACH. and BY LAW the federal reserve has to deposit the money into the treasuries account thus it's account is in the BLACK. $20 trillion ..thus
    the DEFICIT/DEBT can be paid off.....OVERNIGHT!!!! and yes it's's in the 14th AMENDMENT.

    December 5, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  19. dc

    These guys are trying! Where's the compromise from the Left or was it always just a snow job, like everything else.....

    December 5, 2012 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  20. remmi

    Financial “net-worth” is based on perception, not reality. Republicans, in their quest to preserve tax rates on virtual “wealth”. Stock market hi-tech computers that are programmed to trigger hi-frequency sell orders based on specific thresholds, could create the perfect financial storm, triggering sell orders on millions of stocks, or options, other computers will follow; the domino effect.

    Trillions of dollars in “perceived wealth” (stocks, derivatives & commodity) will evaporate overnight. “Nothing unreal exists.” until you tell the mega-rich they’re “net-worth” is gone!!

    December 5, 2012 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  21. Getoverit

    Hhmmm.... So Boehner is agreeable on tax increases.... Ok, cool. Now it's Obama's turn to concede something. That's what "compromise" is, lefties.

    December 5, 2012 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  22. Penny Wright

    Republicans represent the 1%.

    Democrats represent the 99%.

    December 5, 2012 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  23. Caroline

    You always lose negotiating with the fascists democratic party. 1) They put something on the table and you meet them halfway, they walk away saying your not serious. If you go all the way to them, they introduce something new and walk away, it's the fascist way of negotiating. Better to meet them half way and walk away when they do! 2) You cannot out-democrat a democrat. Brown from Massachusetts, tried negotiating with the democrats and they accused him of not cooperating, then beat at the polls with the most inexperienced. biggest liar Massachusetts has ever seen. The fascists democrats can only be beaten one way, by the end of the next 4 years it will have to be that way.

    December 5, 2012 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  24. jmissal

    Maybe people will actually wake up to the two party debacle and vote accordingly two years from now....assuming we make it until then.

    December 5, 2012 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  25. Angela Birch

    The wealthy are going to pay a tiny bit more. The GOP can agree to i and have a hand in shaping it or it will happen New Years Day. Then there will be tax cuts for those making under $250,000. The GOP will have no leverage on that The middle income people will be sure of that. The GOP will have proven their irrelevance. Just whining no is not negotiation. The president has come up with a plan that adds up. The GOP plan just increased the deficit.

    December 5, 2012 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
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