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 loves America so much that they are willing to destroy it to save it from, well, everyone who is not a TP'er. And for this "Taxed Enough Already" nonsense, are you aware that tax rates are the lowest they've been in over 50 years?

    December 13, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  2. JHnyc

    2 year olds scream NO. Adults compromise.

    Cut military spending. Stop corporate welfare.

    Stop giving tax deductions for children. A majority of people should not be reproducing.

    December 13, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  3. steve-0

    The tea party will fly planes into building to ensure the wealthy have economy crushing and historically low tax cuts. Low wages equal greater profits for the backers of the tea party.

    December 13, 2012 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  4. GonzoinHouston

    It isn't that the Tea Partiers are stupid, it's just that they're out of touch with reality. They all live in the RAR – Republican Alternate Reality. When the W administration started going down in flames they only believed more fervently. Religious fundamentalists are good at that sort of thing. When McCain was defeated by some black rookie from Chicago with an un-
    American name they completed parted with the real world. With therapy and treatment most of them could recover. But I wouldn't bet on it.

    December 13, 2012 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  5. Vern

    Some Tea Party members clearly realize that you can't run a nation on a "my way or the highway" slogan, and expect to get anything done. But clearly, I believe far more haven't gotten the message from the election in November, and that is the American people rejected the Tea Party and the GOP "Party of No" philosophy; they rejected this constant stonewalling that has stalled much of the nations' business. They have said, in polls, and at the polls, that the top 2% of wage-earners need to pay a higher rate to help move the nation forward; and they've also said that they blame the Republicans, and, by extension, the Tea Party, far more than they do President Obama or the Democrats for the sad state of affairs in D.C.

    The GOP and the TP went through a PR nightmare with the last budget showdown, and most of them seem to be tone-deaf to what the nation is thinking on this issue.

    If they continue on this path of stonewalling, 2014 and 2016 could make 2012 look like a minor loss for them, because they could be in a world of hurt if they stonewall us over a cliff.

    December 13, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  6. Robrob

    "We have to understand and bow to reality at some point in time." – Why start now?

    December 13, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  7. David

    The Tea Party is simply the extreme right wingers of the Repub party, they are not another party they are all Republicans, stop calling them anything but Republicans.

    December 13, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  8. Larry L

    In the early days of the Tea Party a contract was created to pay for "hand-written" signs advertising Tea Party ideology. These signs were supposed to look like grass-roots efforts to make a political statement – although they were just advertising paid for by the Koch brothers et. al. The toothless masses took the bait and soon racist signs were popping up in every Tea Party rally. The whole concept remains nothing more than a con-job where the filthy rich get the white, fearful, bigoted, right-wing extremists to work against the middle class – using sound bites and social hot-buttons to fuel their enthusiasm. The Tea Party members are Fox News drones, incapable of independent thought and driven by hatred and fear.

    December 13, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  9. Ed1

    Listen to what we are saying stop the out of control spending that's what the Congress was elected to do in 2010 and continue after the 2012 elections.

    December 13, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  10. TheMan57

    The repugs will never learn. Their ideology was rejected this past presidential election. They want to return to the failed Bush policies. Get on board and dont let the country go down the tubes fiscally!

    December 13, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  11. sqeptiq

    $21,000 a month is not rich? Ha, that's rich! What percent of the American public wouldn't love to be that poor? 98%!

    December 13, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  12. James Ruston

    freedom: Please list one freedom you do not have now that you had when President Obama took office. Just one.

    December 13, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  13. electric52

    As much as I was once a Republican and I don't like giving away my money to deadbeats, I also believe that the rich CAN AFFORD to pay roughly 4% more in taxes (i.e. going from 35% to 39%). It's a matter of principle. I'm middle-class and I'm always footing the bill for the deadbeats. So now, let the rich help out. Sooner than latter thou, the middle class WILL rebel against the deadbeats ... but there isn't one Republican that can pull all of us together.

    December 13, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  14. CC

    Tea parties are for little girls with imaginary friends. Grow up and join the adults.

    December 13, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  15. Stephen Falk

    Americans couldn't agree on what brand of toilet paper to use whilst taking a dump, never mind fiscal cliff negotiations . No wonder your country is the ummm.... Crapper .

    December 13, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  16. Anne

    Talk about DENSE! I saw this coming a couple of years ago. I remember thinking the Republican establishment should boot the TPers before they ruined the party etc. Now, it's clear my concerns were correct. Well, Republicans have only themselves to blame.

    December 14, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  17. Name g. nagbe

    Tea party watch november is coming, sooner you would count your house member with one hand fingers! Because most of them are blinded with races ideas and if you republicans are not careful this so call tea party will continue to hurt some of the good republican stands for.

    December 14, 2012 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  18. BeverlyNC

    Republicans are the most non-human, clueless, none should be in any office group I have ever seen. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama (one of the Republican states that gets the most welfare money from the government) actually said he would not agree to raise taxes on the rich until Democrats agree to eliminate FOOD STAMPS because they are ENABLING THE POOR – yes like to eat on $4 dollars a day per person. Oh and I bet Sessions thinks he is a saved holier than thou Christian too? Republicans are disgusting. Let's not agree to anything until Republicans give up their Congressional salaries and cut them down to the average salary in their state, give up their cadillac healthcare plans and their lifetime pensions. Hypocrites, liars, and completely opposite of what Jesus taught us about caring for the "least of us". When are people going to stop voting for these selfish do-nothings? NO Republicans elected or re-elected come the 2014 midterms. Once they get thrown out of office they should have to work at Walmart or a fast food restaurant for minumum wage for 1 year before they can receive any Congressional benefits. Maybe they would learn some empathy and see how the real world functions.Republicans hate the poor and it is sickening since they created even more poor this past Congress by filibustering 386 bills for jobs, economic recovery, education, healthcare, infrastructure, home mortgage help, and veteran benefits.

    December 14, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  19. Christopher

    The thing is making the government real small basically will take us back to a life more akin to 1776. The proliferation of government coincided with the proliferation of people and technology. Of course we didn't need an FCC, Dept of Energy, Dept. of education or EPA. Pollution was not a problem, nor was energy, nobody hardly got education, and radio and electricity had scarcely been discovered. However while we waste time and energy arguing about whether we want to go back and live like 17th century colonists or not countries like China are using government to catch up with us. I find an odd disconnect from reality of tea partiers who claim we are the greatest nation on earth but also say we are the worst because our government is too big and bloated. If we had "small" government with no regulations we would be one of those places they say we are better than. Truth is tea partiers are selfish, backwards, easily manipulated tools who do the work and carry the water for a select few wealthy people out to serve their own interest rather than the nations insterest.

    December 14, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  20. askdavey

    the tea party was just the gop ..who new the polls were not in thier favor during the last mid terms and 8 years of bush....the country crashing without the bush adm. not seeing it coming, it was a gimick and now its all most over.between the lies the gop and the tea party have thrown at the obama adm. the american people are saying "we woke up and you allm0st got over us ...thank the lord we woke up "

    December 14, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  21. Al

    I want to see real cuts too. I want to see all Tea Party members cut from the roster of elected officials.

    December 14, 2012 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  22. Doc Ock

    "Reality" and the "Tea Party".......sounds like a bad sitcom.

    December 14, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  23. Name Champsbabe

    Let's go off the cliff. The Tea Party elitists & all their ilk realize that they will be the ones most impacted when this occurs! That's why they're going the way of the dinosaur, as the American public has rejected their fascist idealogy! Bring on the cliff, can't wait to see Tea Party, Koch brothers, et al, flat line after having their life support stopped when America "pulls the plug"..

    December 14, 2012 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  24. Master Blaster

    I think if the Tea Party wants to be a recognized political party, they should quit "Free Riding" on the elephant! Pay your own way! All you real republicans need to stop humoring them, throw 'em off let's see what they can do by them selfs. As Abraham Lincoln (first republican president) said of the Union. "A house divided, can not stand on its own". If the Tea Party is about fiscal responsibility they need to stop sponging off the GOP. They don't want to pay taxes, pay for their own Party, or even pay their own employees (union busters). The Tea Party has "Talked the talk, but haven't really walked the walk". Lead by example, and get off my elephants back! Cheap Skates!

    December 14, 2012 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  25. Kate65

    Suggest people google the Know Nothing party from the 1850s. Their positions were anti-emigrant, anti-nonwhite Protestants, etc. Sound familiar?

    December 14, 2012 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
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