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. Larry in Houston

    Hate to be a bearer of bad tidings – but the tea party + the fox media + their people that spews all their propaganda – is hurting the GOPERS – it's going to destroy them – come 2014 – and if the fox foreign owned media still spews the coulters / hannity's / the rush's / & etc of this world, this country will have Democrat in the white house in – 2016 – and it doesn't matter if they put christie – as their guy . He may be a little popular right now, because of the hurricane sandy – but he's a republican – if he's the one , in 2016 – then you better forget about the unions – they will be extinct – I can go on & on, but you get the picture ?

    December 13, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. Alger Dave

    Our US rep, Justin Amash, was taken off the house budget committee because of his erratic voting habits and total unwillingness to compromise. On a few house votes he was one of only a few reps who voted against bills, just because they're weren't EXACTLY what he wanted. I'm GOP, but had to swallow hard to vote for this guy. This begs the question – who is the tea party? Are they evangelicals? I don't think so, because evangelicals would be OK with compromise on political issues if not so much on social issues. The tea party seems more libertarian than evangelical to me. Evangelicals would cringe at huge cuts in social programs, whereas libertarians don't seem to have those same troubles. Whatever it is, tea party-ism doesn't appear to be compassionate conservatism, and that's what we really need now. Not more Justin Amashes who can't agree with anyone else, and therefore votes no on everything. More of that is the death of a working political system where unanimity has never existed.

    December 13, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. Wilson

    "The Communists have won in America with Obama. ... Obama has been re-elected for a 2nd term by an illiterate society." – Xavier Lerma

    So true, especially the second part of that statement about "illiterate society". It is a very sad statement about the state of Americans today. So many don't give a damn about their freedoms anymore, they are content with the government handouts and being told what to say, and what to believe, and what to accept as normal.

    December 13, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. Charles

    Don't let the door hit you on your way out Jordan.

    December 13, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. ezduzit757

    Ooooh that sign that woman is holding just makes my blood boil. No, the Tea Party is NOT America. They may be a PART of America, but no bigger part than anyone else. We are all part of America. We had an election. Obama ran on raising the tax rate on the top 2% and HE WON!!! A MAJORITY of AMERICANS voted for him, which means we voted for his policies. So suck it up Republicans! You LOST!!! We sucked it up and lived with GWBush for eight long years even though he made us want to slit our wrists. Now its your turn. That's the AMERICAN way!!

    December 13, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. George

    Ideology is not leadership. These people are not leaders. Leaders assess, adapt, and overcome. Crybabies whine about not getting their way and then run home with the ball when the game doesn't go their way. You can scream as long as you want, but you cannot win. In fact, you've already lost. A majority of Americans see you as the problem, so there is no hope in your cause.

    December 13, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. Nodack

    The lady's sign in the picture tells it all.

    "The Tea Party

    They think they represent America and nobody else does. The people of America voted for Obama and the ending of the tax breaks for the wealthy, but since the Tea Party doesn't consider them Americans their opinion doesn't count in their minds.

    December 13, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. Larry L

    @Tommy G

    The cost of the federal government has DOUBLED since Clinton was in office.
    ================================================================================================You do know a Republican held office for 8 years and crashed our economy?

    December 13, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. SDG66

    These Tea Party politicians don't or won't understand that politics is about compromise, even within their own party. While it is morbidly fascinating to watch the TP Republicans clash with the non-TP Republicans and watch them viciously bite each other over the "soul" (or lack thereof) of their party, we need to keep sweeping them out of Washington. They have done nothing constructive for our country. Maybe at some point in the future they'll get a clue.

    December 13, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. COfoEVA

    Cliff jumping! I bet I can do a gainer.

    December 13, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. truthandconsequence

    While voters were busy voting for benefits in November, they voted for, who is to stand in their way? Obama got them to believe that by going after the rich, they would get richer. Reminds of a Chinese who visited this country early in the post-Mao era. When taken to an American shopping mall, he was overwhelmed. He said, Mao had promised that by getting rid of the wealthy, the Chinese people would become equal and the visitor said it was so - "equally poor." How far the Chinese have come in learning this hard lesson while the Jacobin rabble in this country is in the midst of a huge forgetting.

    December 13, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. john

    Are there any intellegent people who want to go into government and work for Americans instead of money baggers?I have never seen such a useless, lazy, corrupt, bunch of liars as we now have. Did we empty out all the car sales rooms? or round up all the snake oil salesmen and women and vote them in? We really must enjoy being ripped off. Now we can't get rid of them because they all with the help of their Govenors have gerimandered their disricts so we can never get rid of them. We have proved ourselves to be just as dumn as the rest of the world believes.

    December 13, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. Rick in AZ

    I'd bet not one in ten of these Tea Party folks would know that the original, real, actual Boston Tea Party was a protest against LOW taxes for a multi-national corporation. Before all you lunatics call me a liar, I'll just echo what Casey Stengal would say-"You can look it up".

    December 13, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. jboh

    Clinton raised taxes on wealthiest, and economy grew at highest rate since WWII. W cut wealthiest's taxes, and economy crashed. The only way to get that $ out of secret Cayman bank accts, and Scrooge's counting tower, is to give the rich a choice between investing it, or losing it in taxes. When Clinton gave them that choice, the economy expanded at record rate, and richest made more $ than ever. TEA/GOP is more interested in totalitarian control than the USA. That is why the TEApot was flushed last month.

    December 13, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  15. rs

    Tommy G-
    Go ask W- he had the biggest expansion ever of the federal government.

    December 13, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. Saboth

    The Bush Tax Cuts were only ever meant to be temporary. They were a bad idea when implemented, but actually a good thing now (recovering from a recession). The wealthiest people have seen their wealth grow 300% in recent years. They are not hurting, to say the least. A small % tax increase on them will have zero impact on jobs or even their wealth. It will do very little to pay our country's debt, but every little bit helps. Cutting government spending right now is simply a terrible idea. That's called austerity, and it's crippled the economies of many European nations that went that route. We will have to cut spending, and pay debt one day soon, but not this year or the next. Perhaps in 3-4 years that's a topic to revisit, after the economy has improved.

    December 13, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. Slowgun

    When Clinto left office we didn't have a debt problem, the economy was booming, the budget was not only balance but there was actually a surplus.
    When Bush left office, we were 11 trillion in debt, the economy was the worst since the great depressions, wall street was in free fall, we were lsoing 100s of thousand of jobs each month...

    But it's Obama's fault and he should blame Bush...right, tell me again who is the party of personasl responsibility?

    December 13, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. John M.

    the very rich have been skating on very thick ice far too long whiile paying half the tax % rate as the middle class (many are struggling to pay their bill while paying twice as much tax rate than the super rich millionarires and billioniares) now is the time that those greedy super rich fat cats should pay as much or more than the middle class. Its only fair and logical

    December 13, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. Disco

    What is this Tea Party. Do you get to drink free tea?

    December 13, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. Souljacker

    I don't think that most people understand what Obama is asking for. Raising taxes on the wealthiest 2% isn't going to suddenly make them broke. It's going to force them to make better choices with their money, or lose it to the government. GoP policies failed, and failed hard for 8 long years. We need to go back to the tried and true policies of the Clinton years.

    December 13, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Tommy G

    The beast must be grown and grown until it devours us country and all. After all, it "is in our best interest" to take and take and take as much as we possibly can before others get it or it is gone. After all, we are owed it because we are the richest nation on earth. There is plenty here, it just needs to be spread around better. Thank God we have empowered the federal government to do this through the progressive tax code.

    December 13, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. DC michael

    "We have determined that there is some type of secret scorecard," Huelskamp told CNN.

    Well, golly, maybe these guys have actually learned something about how things work up on the Hill after all.

    December 13, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. The Real Tom Paine


    Typical of the Dems, they really have no idea what the Tea Party stands for, nor do they want to find out. They have their speculation of what the Tea Party is about, but in a vast majority of cases they are completely off base. The Tea Party is what our founders had in mind. Minimal government, minimal intrusion on our personal lives, fiscal responsibility, and so on...but Dems don't understand what fiscal responsibility is, or how it works, nor do they care about freedom from government intrusion into our lives.
    Minimal government, in the Founder's eyes, based upon an understanding that only certain people were capable of the kind of behavior to make it work: their attempts at a Utopian society began to be wrecked in Washington's lifetime. Washington wanted to spend money on internal improvements and maintain a strong military: he led the military expedition to chrush Shay's rebellion and the Whiskey rebellion. Adams and Hamilton agreed with him, as did most of the people who served under Washington: does this sound like the mythology you just put out? Hamilton, Madison and Jay advocated for a stronger central government because the so-called minimalist government that Jefferson and others supported was an abject failure. As far as personal responsiblity is concerned, the GOP ran up the tab with wartime taxcuts that forced them to conduct wars off the books, plus unfunded mandates in education and medicare that only registered after they had been forced from office for gross negligence. Nice little piece about personal responsibility, but its about as accurate as the Pason Weems story about Washington admitting he cut down the cherry tree.

    December 13, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. fernace

    The Tea Party started as a fringe group that stood against unecessary taxasion! People everywhere cheered, because who likes taxes, especially more than "necessary"!? Somehow the concept has been taken up by Norquist & other hardliners to protect those w/the most money who pay the least taxes due to unfair loopholes & W's generous "gift" of taxcuts! In the beginning it was about protecting the average citizen, now it's been twisted to only protect the upper 2%! If the true T-Party folk can't see that, they are either operating in a vaccum or have been bought off! Why else would it matter so much to these people, to protect the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the 98%!?

    December 13, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  25. gar

    The "Tea Party" is nothing more than the John Birch Society 21st century-style. They represent a vocal minority that is well-funded by a few would-be oligarchs. 2014 will see a further decrease in their Congressional membership.

    December 13, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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