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. GonzoinHouston

    The Tea Party couldn't compromise to lower the lifeboats from the Titanic. You can only assume they will vote no on everything and hope they can't intimidate as many people as they did in the last crisis. They are on the political equivalent of a jihad.

    December 12, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    Not on Obama, the dictator's, terms.

    December 12, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  3. Kelby in Houston, TX

    The fiscal cliff was created by the Tea Party!
    This entire problem is their fault!
    If the majority of people had not slept during the 2010 midterms and actually showed up to vote, WE WOULDN'T BE GOING THROUGH THIS RIGHT NOW!
    We should not be seeking tea party people input
    We should be showing them the exit
    We should pray to that we never allow such an element into elected office ever again!

    December 12, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. Observer

    I think you should all vote NO on any tax increase, especially for the rich. I know how important their money is to them, and I know that they bought the republicans they have in the house, so of course they should get what they paid for, and anything a person with true buying power can obtain in Washington. Its time really to just let the highest bidder make up the rules, after all America is a capitalist society, and how can money not make the rules in a totally capitlist society. Going back you look at it everything that was going in the tank should have failed, no bailouts for anyone, after all these are the rules of a completely capitalist society. No handouts, No handouts, no handouts. I mean what would have happen if everything collapsed, the people with money would have picked up the pieces for bargain prices. Keep saying no, a little collapse is good for everyone, like regrowth after a fire.

    December 12, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  5. Facts don't Lie

    The Tea Party movement reached it's peak it seems back in 2010 and has been heading down ever since. Their approval rating is not very high at all.....many turned against them after the debt talks that held the country in limbo and lead to a down rating of our crdit. Polls show a majority of Americans want the two parties to work together and compromise yet the Tea Party lives in it's own world and refuses to see that. It may be time for this movement to go the way of the dodo bird. Nobody wants to pay more taxes than they need to and the Tea Party does not even realize our taxes, at least income taxes have not gone up under Obama and some have even gone down.. Some of their "heroes" have lost their offices like West or are being scorned like Palin and Bachmann are.

    December 12, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  6. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    I can not forgive the tea party for what the have did to my GOP. they refuse to play for the american team. sometimes I wish we were mere numbers so that we could look at the problem of classism and divisiveness unemotionally. Numbers do not lie, nor do they discriminate.

    December 12, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  7. babs

    Secret scorecard. Conspiracy theory much?

    December 12, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  8. D jones

    The Tea Party is just the Republican version of Liberal Democrats. We can do without both.

    December 12, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  9. ghost

    With or without the support of the repigs, taxes are going up on the rich. I am a poor individual and I do not care if my taxes go up just as long as they go up on the rich. I wish they go up even higher that what the President are requesting. Why do rich people want all of the wealth in this country? In doing so makes more and more people poorer. They already have more money than they and/or heirs will ever be able to spend. I nor any other middle and poor class person want thier money. Just leave some fore the rest of to provide for our families. Is that asking too much? Mrs. Clinton 2016

    December 12, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    America is better off without Tea Party extremists and ideologues. They may have done irreparable damage to the Republican brand for many years to come.

    December 12, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  11. IAMBeowolf

    Jim Jordan should be removed from office. He's already saying NO when he has not even see a proposal. These Tea Party folk are traitors to the country.

    December 12, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  12. us_1776

    The TEA party needs relegated to the political rubbish bin of history.


    December 12, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  13. gary nelson

    Jim Jordan, you are the reason democrats are gaining power and will continue to do so. Your "I'm saying no" attitude is what is driving every demographic except rich and white away from your party. Keep up the good work, democrats everywhere are grateful.

    December 12, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. Did he REALLY say that?

    ""We have to understand and bow to reality at some point in time."

    Wow. The Earth really IS going to end in a couple of days.

    December 12, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  15. Don

    Who? Who cares what they are ready to do. Moving on and forward. They will be totally done in 2 years.

    December 12, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  16. rs

    The TEA Party can't deal with reality. Does anyone really think they can deal with the complexities of the fiscal cliff (even though it was their legislation that created it)?

    Even if they do, what are the odds that McConnel and gang in the Senate are going to filibuster anything thak escapes the House?

    The GOP has grown to used to being the machine breakers, they no long can contribute to the political process in a mature and positive fashion.

    December 12, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  17. Bruce Golding

    For heavens sake, please abandon this reckless treatment of the fiscal cliff impasse. When hardline Republicans soften their positions, they should not be pilloried as pledge-breakers. When Tea Party extremists show signs of willingness to compromise, they should not be portrayed as capitulators. They both face enough problems within their tribes. CNN's ridiculing them will only scare away others from a position of compromise. It cannot be CNN's purpose to facilitate a plunge over the fiscal cliff but it could be the unintended consequence.

    December 12, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  18. TexasVoter

    Republicans say, tell your grandparents they are worthless pieces of Shiat and should put gun to head and end the misery. They say Senior Citizens do not deserve social security and shold you should spit in the face of all u see.

    December 12, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  19. Nurul Aman

    No matter what happens in the GOP political platform in DC, the TeaParty is the most dangerous political wing under GOP umbrella that has just emerged out of no where on the very first day, when President Obama entered the White House. They have emerged with the budget crisis agenda to bring people's attention to gain popularity. It is not a coincidence that the real intention of this pert leadership was to discredit the first African American elected President in the name of budget crisis. This TeaParty is nothing but a racially charged party to divide the country. No one saw this party coming in Georg Bush's eight years of presidency, when Bush brought this record budget deficit in this country. Where was this arrogant TeaParty at that time? Modern America does not want this dangerous party to exist. People are happy to see this dangerous party fading away slowly. I hope to see this fake party disappeared as quickly as possible.

    December 12, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  20. steve-0

    The tea party is al-queda lite. They hate this country and want to make everyone poor so the rich can keep all the profits

    December 12, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  21. Fiscal Conservative

    We should all be required to send 100% of our income to the Federal Government, they can give us back what we need instead of greedy people deciding how much money they want to hoard.

    December 12, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  22. Russ

    What part of "you lost the election" don't these idiots understand. This is a country where the majority rules. The majority says we want President Obama's plan. Higher taxes on the wealthy. It's pretty simple. Now get over it and quit stomping your feet and screaming no, no, no, no.

    December 12, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  23. Wellywellup

    Whether you believe raising the taxs on the fabulously rich 2% will harm the economy it is going to happen one way or the other. The GOP have only two choices, break their promise to the bully named after a muppet, or tank the economy.

    December 12, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  24. CD_Eps

    Good riddance to this guy, what a nut job. As far as the rest who lost their committee assignments courtesy of speaker Boehner, their unwillingness to compromise will be their undoing. Even Reagan and O'Neill were able to get together for the good of the country. Who do you think you are ?

    December 12, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  25. Bob

    "A handful of tea party aligned members of Congress believe they are being punished for their uncompromising views on taxes " No. You're being punished for being either paid shills or ignorant sheep of the Koch Brothers and Rupert Murdoch. Your "grass roots" movement is about as genuine as Saddam Hussein getting 100% of the vote in his Iraqi elections. Your movement was composed of sellouts, birthers, nutjobs, and bigots. You represent the part of America that the civilized world is desperately trying to evolve beyond. It's no longer the 1950s or even the 1850s. Your president is a black man and corporations don't have voting rights. Deal with it already.

    December 12, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
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