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. not in WI

    Yay! More taxes! I can't wait! Our government is so smart and responsible, I just can't wait to give them more money! Keep voting for bigger government! They know best and they'll take good care of us. Just send them your money. Yay!

    December 13, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. Please_evolve

    I think the writing was on the wall when Bachman fizzled so early in the Republican primaries. The TP platform was not resonating then and it didn't months later. The Dems have made plenty of blunders and have their share of extremeists too but IMHO they are not so freakishly hateful as the TP. I find great hypocracy in their "not very Christian" messaging. Limbaugh, Coulter, Bachman (I don't list Rove and Cheney because I think they are old school Reps and dish out what I call "acceptible rancor").

    December 13, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. Johnny Bo

    I am a liberal democrat. We can just print more money, so I don't know why everyone is so nervous. Also, the money we send out in welfare isn't cash, it is checks. That means that it isn't increasing the deficit.

    December 13, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Expat American

    The Tea Party ideology is 60+ years behind the times.
    Sad to see that there are still so many poor angry white people in dollar store Halloween hats (the sheets gave too much away); who are afraid to knowledge that the demographic landscape of the nation is changing and their ice age is coming, and coming very soon.

    Turn up the volume on yer' Greenwood, Williams, and Nugent to drown out the downfall.

    December 13, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. kylefromohio

    And if he is not keeping a score card on your vote the People is keeping that score card. And you can count on to remember how and when you voted! All the people are counting for and against your views.

    December 13, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  6. Johnny Bo

    Let's just raise taxes on somebody else. Signed...obama voter.

    December 13, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  7. Wilson

    "U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz accused Republicans of trying to make it a crime to be an illegal alien. Democrats see a conspiracy plot. First Republicans want to say that illegal aliens are illegal, next they're going to want to take away their voting rights."

    December 13, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. Joe The Plumber

    The Tea Party folks love to tout their stand on "principles." Probably doesn't ocurr to them that principles are guideposts not straight jackets. Regan had principles that in face of reality, he compromised – didn't mean he gave up on his principlis. The thing missing from the Tea Party crowd is wisdom.

    December 13, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  9. Doug

    If the Republicans had any credibility, they might have some credibility. But for the last 4 decades at least, they have spent like drunken sailors, just like the Democrats. Of course the Republicans want to spend money on nukes, unneccessary ground wars, and more ships the navy says they don't want rather than health care and education for kids. It doesn't matter what the GOP says since you can not trust them. How can they claim to be fiscally conservative after GWB's disasterous war-on-a-whim?

    December 13, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  10. John

    I'm all for cutting back on government spending, reforming welfare and SSI/SSDI, lower taxes, and having people take responsibility for their lives. I can agree with some of the Tea Party concepts, its just that their methods are unsound and they are too extreme for me. The country can't be conveniently divided into conservative and liberals or US vs. the Godless Socialists Helbent on Destroying America. I'm very conservative but I don't want to destroy people who have a different opinion, so I can't be part of the Tea Party. I tried to be a Republican but my application was rejected because I don't make enough money.

    December 13, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    we still need to take in money to pay for the wars that W wanted. Not to mention the medical care for all our vets.

    I guess the TP hate our vets too.

    December 13, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    The debt ceiling is just what is needed to pay what Congress has already authorized to spend years ago.

    December 13, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  13. GI Joe

    The stock market fell as Boehner spoke today - that's what the TP is doing to us.

    December 13, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  14. JMBarrett

    Don't raise taxes on people who have so much and just sit on it, take away health care and stipends from people who are barely scraping by. Yes, that makes perfect sense. If I'm a millionaire, I don't really care how much health care costs. I can easily afford whatever price is required. I don't care if my electric bill, or heating bill, or cable bill go up. It's less than pocket change. No matter how hot or cold it is outside, I'll be comfortable. I don't even need the fire department or police. I have fire sprinklers in my home and a round-the-clock security guard protecting me. Hell, I don't even drive my own car. But don't you dare take another 3% away from me. Get it from the masses who are living on minimum wage or who are depending on that Social Security check which, by the way, they paid for all those years that they worked. Greed makes me sick.

    December 13, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |

    Boy that tea Party tea is just getting weaker and weaker.!!! The Tea bag bigot party was just a phase and won't last. People see through their ignorant, narrow minded mind set. They are dinosaurs!!! Just fade away, we don't need your hate. take Palin with you!!!

    December 13, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  16. Bubba

    Everyone who has ever stood for a worthy cause, knows that they will eventually be knocked down.
    The honor, comes from how we react after being pushed down. The Tea Party is crying like babies, and loosing what little respect they were given. My advice to the Tea Party is simple: Get Up, Quit Whinning, and Start Working! Otherwise you are just proving that you are all empty puppets under the control of wealthy GOP donors. Honorable Americans don't WHINE, they OVERCOME.

    December 13, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Tommy G

    The cost of the federal government has DOUBLED since Clinton was in office. Just how big do the Democrats, "progressives" and communists expect it to be?!! Can we expect to see a $7 TRILLION federal government in 10 years? The beast MUST stop growing people!!

    December 13, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Bubba

    Is anyone else as embarrased as I am, at how pathetic the Tea Party is? Real Americans overcome challenges. The rest just cry alot.

    December 13, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. belinda

    Republicans, know there is no way, to make up for the trillion dollar price tag, attached to the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Cut Medicare and medicaid and let people die in their hospital beds, the GOP doesn't care as long as they keep their Bush tax breaks and ridiculous tax deductions, that the Rich and Corporations have been taking advantage of for over thirty years, ask the IRS, in their IRS intro, they state that the tax system is unfair to middle class families. They also in the same intro blame us for voting for these Clowns.They are right. We are responsible. The GOP knows that those days of being ripped off, are over.

    December 13, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. vic

    I am amazed at how people vote against their own best interests. The GOP only use the poor uneducated to get their vote and then cut any benefits they may need. The GOP has no idenity. Nearly ever statement or column written by a Republican mentions the great Reagan. Jesus..can't you at least be your own party? Do you want to dig him up and re elect him?

    December 13, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. ObaWendon

    What began and could have been a really awesome statement of the people quickly became extremely finatical. They became vicious if you don't agree with their viewpoint. They refuse to do anything for the country that does not fit withing their narrow point of view. They just became so far from what the spirit of the original Tea Party did so many years ago it is a shame they try to associate what the original Tea Party actions. They want to push their views on everyone else and they are very cruel and mean spirited. No compassion for their fellow man. I voted to out our TP person, and thank God so did everyone else in our area. They need to go away next election along with all those who pleged to Grover Norquist instead of their constituants.

    December 13, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. phearis

    What I find amusing is that the GOP and their ignorant sheep scream about "Big Government" and spending yet they seem to completely overlook that over the last 11 years (going on 12) the US has spent over $4-Trillions (yes that's Trillion with a T) on two wars that only the GOP and Bush wanted. He and his cronies even fabricated flat out lies to illegally invade one of those countries. Now comes along the Teapublicans (a political party even some members of the GOP say are complete wackos) and what do they do? Blame everything that their bot Gee-Dub did on this Black Guy. Because everything is his fault. And further more, they blame him for things that aren't even his fault and talk smack about how he's spending all this money that we don't have. Well, they didn't seem to have a problem spending all that money that we didn't have when Bush was in office.

    December 13, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. Tom

    Republicans are an embarrassment to the USA. You hear it everywhere you go in the world.

    December 13, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. PtBarnumBoy

    As long as the Koch brothers have money to throw at Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity the tea party will be around. There are none so blind as those who are too naive to open their eyes.

    December 13, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. NoTags

    The tea party is over. The tea party wants to take this country back 100 years which you can see in blogs at their websites. 6 out of 8 tea party candidates were defeated on November 6th and more will be defeated in 2014.

    December 13, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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