Is the tea party ready to deal on fiscal cliff?
December 12th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
10 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. Harbormick

    The adults shoul not have to deal with the petulant children of the tea party

    December 14, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  2. MrRickinNH

    Ironic isn't it... that the GOP teabaggers want to cut spending before the creditcard bill (which THEY ran up) is paid!

    December 14, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  3. KHM

    @Anonymous – Couldn't agree with you more.

    December 14, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  4. FactCheck

    The Tea Party motto: I got my gobmint handout, forget the rest of y'all.

    December 14, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  5. Steve

    If your children are out of control spending, you stop giving them money. In the childish government, it's beginning to look like there aren't any adults in the house to get this done. Our current commander in chief has managed to do something no other president has in the history of the United States. He's failed to pass any budget at all, even when he had a dem house.

    September 14 2012 (CBS/AP) NEW YORK – Credit rating agency Egan-Jones is downgrading its rating on U.S. debt to AA- from AA, citing Federal Reserve plans to try to stimulate the economy. This after two previous downgrades from AAA- and AA+

    Our Obama administration lackeys at work. Oh wait, the government did take action, the SEC did sick their investigators on both s&p and Egan Jones for daring to say the emperor had big ears.

    December 14, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  6. Gurgyl

    Comments referring to the people in the picture as "white trash," by liberal posters on here, gives lie to who are actually the racists on this blog.

    December 14, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  7. Ed1

    Just to remind everyone the Congress we have now was elected in 2010 to stop the out of control spending guess what they were re-elected again in 2012 for the same reason.

    Face the facts you walk on water Obama is out of control and starting to act more like a dictator every day wante unlimited powers.

    Wake up America you have re-elected a Dictator not a President for the people.

    December 14, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  8. Anonymous

    One more thing. If the media would actually do it's part and inform these fools WHAT cuts Boehner and his colleagues are demanding (medicare, medicaid, social security, housing deductions, charitable deductions,) the Tea Party people wouldn't be quite so joyously demanding Boehner to stick to his guns. Those protesting the loudest against Obama are the ones who will actually lose the most.

    December 14, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  9. Ed1

    Comparing the photo to white trash kind of like the Union thugs tearing down private property because the people elected in MI passed the right to work bill your state elected them. Of course they want blood and civil war another outfit that Obama backs Union Thugs.

    December 14, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  10. Steve

    Just to remind the ignorant, the failure to reach a timely debt ceiling deal was NOT the reason our credit was downgraded. S&P said it would slash the Triple-A rating if a debt ceiling deal was not accompanied by what it deems is a credible plan to cut the $14.3 trillion federal deficit by $4 trillion. The plan also has "to have bipartisan support," Chambers said. "If you have a plan that is only backed by one side or the other, even if you got it through, you would be faced with the prospect of it being unwound."

    The failure of the house to back spending cuts, like the democrats are doing AGAIN, is exactly why it happened. The fiscal cliff may be our only chance to avoid another credit downgrade. Eagan Jones has already downgraded our credit to AA-.

    December 14, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  11. maine liberal

    When our household spending is out of control and we charge up debt, the solution is to cut spending but also to pay down the debt ( a debt that is owed to americans) by getting more revenue ( another job). The debt is not paid down by cutting the household revenue, may be in Republican land it is.

    December 14, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  12. Alan

    Debt ceiling was NOT the reason credit was downgraded. That fact that it wasn't accompanied by a 4 trillion cut is the reason why credit was downgraded per Chanbers of s&p. QE3 is doing nothing to reduce spending while simultaneously lowering the value of the dollar which has contributed to continuing negative outlook from all the credit rating agencies. Without spending cuts of MORE than 4 trillion, we're looking at another credit downgrade.

    December 14, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  13. Matthew

    The Tea Party was formed in response to the Bush Administration's spending. They felt like the Republicans were Democrats 2.0. I am not a Tea Party member nor do I agree with all their views but they are not nut jobs our out of touch with reality as posters on this message board state. Just talk to them and get to know them. Education in our nation is so bad and it is reflecting it in our political system. Our schools teach math/science but nothing about history, political thought, social studies, etc. Our neglect of these programs has caused an ignorant generation to be raised.

    December 14, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  14. Nathan

    Its nice to see republicans attacking and distrusting each other. That is what happens when you have a den of snakes.

    December 14, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  15. Bob

    Grab a parachute. Now EVERYBODY gets to pay Clinton era taxes.

    December 14, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  16. WachetAuf

    Matthew has one interesting point. The Tea Party was a movement to reform the GOP. They have been disemboweling and eating their own. His other point is about education. The GOP, with the leadership of the poor white trash which took over the GOP beginning in the 1960s, had one goal in mind – to destroy public education. That is the sole reason for the decline in education. The GOP now believes that all science is anti-Jesus and that all history must be rewritten to exclude what does not support their narrow world view. Guns and Jesus is their salvation. Money buys both.

    December 14, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. jorge washinsen

    They will deal. They came into existence just for this vote,invented by a smart Democrat. and used.

    December 14, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  18. rs

    Creating the TEA Party was the Republican Party's worst idea in decaes (and that says a lot). Sure they were effective as "brown shirts" to shout at anything the GOP didn't like (like the President and federal government), but all in all they are now the cancer that will kill the GOP. Their lunatic-fringe knee-jerk radicalism simply is not at all appealling the the vast majority of Americans, and they are apparently simply too stupid to realize they are losing.

    December 14, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
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