Is the tea party ready to deal on fiscal cliff?
December 12th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
2 years ago

Is the tea party ready to deal on fiscal cliff?

Washington (CNN) - For the tea party movement, change is brewing on Capitol Hill.

Florida Republican Rep. Allen West, who rode the conservative wave into the House of Representatives two years ago only to be swept away in November, has already moved out of his office.

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When CNN paid a visit to the outgoing freshman lawmaker's office, a painting crew was prepping the space for its new occupant. Boxes and furniture were in the hallway. Staff members were gone. Through a spokeswoman, West declined to be interviewed for this story.

For some tea party backed lawmakers who remain in their seats, the movement appears to be shifting toward a compromise on the fiscal cliff, or at least allowing one to pass.

"We have to understand and bow to reality at some point in time. Republicans have no power in this negotiation," Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, told CNN.

Johnson said he would not use his filibuster power to block a vote on a compromise that raises taxes. The Republican senator indicated that is one such scenario under discussion among GOP leadership.

"There's only one person that can prevent taxes being raised for the American public. It's the president. Because without any action, without him being willing to sign a bill, taxes go up for every American. I don't want to see that happen," Johnson said.

A handful of tea party aligned members of Congress believe they are being punished for their uncompromising views on taxes and spending by Republican leaders in the House, including Speaker John Boehner.

Last week, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, and three other House members were booted from their committee assignments in what they believe to be a message from Boehner to get in line for a vote on the fiscal cliff.

Huelskamp has accused the speaker and House leadership of keeping a "scorecard" on lawmakers' votes.

"We have determined that there is some type of secret scorecard," Huelskamp told CNN. "I think there's going to be an attempt to - potentially, I hope not - to push a tax increase through the House and we will see what happens," he added.

Boehner denied he is dropping the hammer in a letter to the lawmakers.

"There is no scorecard or any other single criteria used to determine committee assignments," Boehner's letter reads.

Roughly 18 months after tea party activists rallied on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and chanted "shut 'er down" during previous budget stand-offs, their conservative favorites in Congress are leaving the door open to compromise, even on the contentious subject of raising tax rates on wealthier Americans.

At a popular regular gathering of tea party backed lawmakers, dubbed "Conversation with Conservatives," Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho said Wednesday his vote hinges on what the president proposes.

"But the problem is that I want to see real cuts. Real cuts. I'm not saying yes and I'm not saying no," Labrador said.

Seated right next to Labrador at the meeting, Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio and fellow tea party favorite, offered no such chance for compromise.

"I'll be clear and I'll say no," Jordan said.


Filed under: Allen West • Congress • Fiscal Cliff • Tea Party
soundoff (443 Responses)
  1. Ramrod

    What is wrong with the fiscal cliff? It reduces spending and increases tax revenue. It puts us back where we were at the end of 2000. Bring it on.

    December 13, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  2. lee

    Tea Party is ruining the GOP

    December 13, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. Eli Cabelly

    They're accusing House leadership of keeping a voting scorecard? Isn't that what the NRA and Norquist and the Koch brothers and the Tea Party leadership do?

    December 13, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. Woman In California

    Why is this WHITE TRASH at the top of your political Ticker when Susan Rice (important news) falls way down the line?

    Please explain.

    December 13, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  5. MaryM

    Many, many true republicans saw the writing on the wall last year when the TPer held the debt ceiling hostage.
    Just for your TPers that dont know, you cant say you are not going to pay your bills and not expect your credit rating will be downgraded. Thanks alot TPers. Repubs scrape off the TPers now before the GOP goes the way of the dinosaurs

    December 13, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. TheVoice2

    The rich have bought themselves a party called the GOP/Republicans, and Grover Norquist is their "hit man"

    December 13, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. Gurgyl

    Is this a JOKE????????????????

    December 13, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  8. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    It's very simple, GOP. The majority does not care for your ideology. And the posters on here supporting the GOP mantra of trickle down economics are clearly just as deluded as GOP leadership. Obsolescent is thy trend, GOP; don't say we didn't warn you.

    December 13, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  9. freedom

    @ Tom Paine
    The only anger you are sensing is the fact that the whole country is going to suffer because of the manipulated voters who do not know what catastrophe they just voted into office. This president is not like any other democrat that has held this office. That's a fact. And the bible and flag belong to all – republicans do not claim to have a corner on that market – they just honor both and express that they do. Your claims about the Tea Party are false – they were not born out of anger – they are patriots that sensed their freedoms being taken away. That's exactly what this administration is doing – disintegrating this country's freedoms with every moment that passes.

    December 13, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. Romney is NOT My Hero

    All I want for Christmas is for the GOP to stop getting their way.

    December 13, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  11. mediafail2012

    The level of ignorance, willful or otherwise, regarding the Tea party here is astounding. Rather than have a wall of text I will address the most common regurgitation of half-truths or (mostly) outright lies point by point.

    1) "The party is a bunch of racists" – This charge has been leveled as soon as they started to gain attention at a national level. Just by opposing Obama's plan they were racists. Yes, some racists were there, but at any given event where hundreds or even thousands of signs were being held the only signs that were displayed in photograph or stood next to by reporters are the few truly outrageous posters. You can see the wide shot on many of these photographs to find this out. Also, media outlets have edited video to show racism at tea party rallies when, in fact, the person espousing racist comments was asked or told to leave. One person was outed as as a plant to get in front of cameras to promote this narrative.

    December 13, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  12. IAVetSV

    @freedom.. without any specifics dont just label charges ..I say republicans took alll the freedom and money with it in the Bush era and in the last few years of party of No in the House.. How anyone took your Freedom in last 4 years explain to the people. they already rejected overwhelmingly ur kind of thoughts in last election .. and its good people u supported lost as the only thing you guys do is called name calling and serving the so called job creators .. who are shipping jobs overseas every year since Bush's era

    December 13, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. Martha in CF

    Good-and I hope the door hit him in the ___

    December 13, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  14. Ozzie

    Sickest, most un-patriotic, un-democratic, greedy people on God's planet.

    December 13, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  15. shamgar50

    The baggers are the worst thing that ever happened to our government, and the republican party (after Ronnie Ragun).

    December 13, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  16. jj

    Tax the rich

    December 13, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  17. gordyb

    where is Michelle B? She has been very quiet about this.

    December 13, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  18. DumbasRocks [R]s

    lee: while your comment is formally accurate, the boat "Ruined GOP" already left the doc many years ago.

    December 13, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  19. nri1998

    Tea party is a white supremacist group. They supported wars by Bush, they supported torture of other races, they spent our money on these wars like drunken sailors and now the clowns are talking about deficits.

    December 13, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  20. Steve S

    I've NEVER been able to use the words....reality......and Tea Party....in the same sentence.

    And keep a straight face.

    December 13, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  21. diane

    Exactly what freedoms do you think you are losing??....also where we you people when the repubs charged 2 wars and part D medicare benefit on a charge card? Heard no screaming about taking away of your freedom back then under bush/cheney. We now have to pay for 12 years of war etc, but we have to do that in balanced way.

    December 13, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  22. ManWithThe1000PoundBrain

    Why are these people suddenly concerned about a debt problem that has been brewing for decades (and was remedied under Clinton)? Talk about debt to tax ratio... Taxes are historically low and the already lower revenue (Bush tax cuts) crashed further upon the onset of the GOP induced Great Recession. The top tax rate under Eisenhower (R) was 90%; under Nixon (R) 77%; Reagan (R) 50%. The debt, as a percentage of GDP, exploded under Reagan/Bush but under Clinton (top rate 39.6%), we were recovering with surpluses. Thanks to "W" and what was supposed to be temporary tax cuts and two off the books wars, we went back on a trajectory of deficits and massive debt. Now, all of a sudden, these people are all up in arms about the national debt AND tax rates even though tax rates are lower than they were under Reagan–even lower than they were under Clinton. If you want to solve the debt problem, you have cut spending (to include defense) AND raise revenues. No person that has a clue of the matter at hand really believes we can cut our way to a balanced budget AND pay down the debt. We have to cut spending AND raise revenues.

    December 13, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  23. Ex-GOPCon

    G – roup
    O – f
    P – olitically
    T – erroristic
    E – uropean
    A – mericans

    December 13, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  24. Sam

    OMG, I am amazed that Obama would trust a Republican. I think his selection would be a huge, bad move.

    December 13, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  25. kingofknox12

    People like Ramrod and Sumsanity are what's wrong with America today. These people screaming "shut it down!" and claiming it will be glorious to go over the fiscal cliff because of the automatic spending cuts prove that they would rather allow this great nation to become another Iceland or Greece simply to spite a lawfully-elected president. For me, the fiscal crisis and the potential shutdown is personal: my best friend is Air Force and will not get paid should there be a shutdown (and that is where we're heading long-term if we don't do something), and I have a family member working for the Dept. of Energy who could lose his job – or at least be temporarily laid off – because of budget cuts. I pray fervently that real Americans will tell both sides to stop acting like children and get a deal done

    December 13, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
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