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. Kate65

    And why is it that some of the comments here equate union members with nonpaying of taxes. I'm a union member and I probably pay more in taxes than Warren Buffett.

    December 14, 2012 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  2. stevensj64

    The Tea Party is of no consequence. Hastily formed within weeks of President Obama's election in 2012 to give White Supremacy a political voice, they have proved to be a small flash in the pan and probably did the Republican Party more harm than good in the recent election.

    December 14, 2012 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  3. FactChecker

    The Bush tax cuts were temporary and were passed when we had a projected budget surplus. It's time to let the tax cuts expire and pay our debts.

    December 14, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  4. David

    Every time I hear someone from the "Tea Party" speak I am reminded of how far you can go when the only things you think about are thinly veiled expressions of hate towards someone you disagree with. Time to call a spade a spade. Characterizing anyone with a label like Lemming and Liberal really shows your ignorance. The Fat Middle Part of the Bell Curve votes people into office and out of office. If you can't appeal to the middle and only espouse hate, discontent and conspiracy theories you will be regarded as little more than a carnival side show with a tattooed lady and a crocodile boy. People are laughing at you. You are out of touch except with your own hubris.

    December 14, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  5. sidprejean

    The "scorecard" ain't secret.This is not some middle school student council. Republican leaders have taken the first small steps towards treating like children those who act like children.
    These folks are semi-educated ideologues who have little knowledge and no respect for fundamental continuity of government.

    December 14, 2012 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  6. Tony in Maine

    It's probably time to push the Tea Party off the cliff. Never have so few terrified so many.

    December 14, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  7. Vincent

    Without compromise, there will be stalemate. And a stalemate would be a disaster as nothing wil ever get done.
    The Tea party favourites seem to have the opinion that its 'my way or no way'. Thats not going to be good for the US.

    December 14, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  8. Realityblowz

    Yesterday it was reported that the Fed is printing up 85 billion in bonds, 45 billion in long term treasury purchases, and 40 billion in mortgage bonds each month. That comes to 3.9 million dollars of money being printed out of thin air each second. And now you dim bulb Liberals are squawking here saying that everything is fine and dandy, and the TEA Party is wrong. I will enjoy watching you next year, when this house of liberal cards collapses.

    December 14, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  9. daniel

    I don't even like to drink a tea, let alone being part of this sick, and full of stone age mentality tea party.

    December 14, 2012 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  10. southexas

    A handfull of Tea Party fools will not speak for the majority of the Americans. I would say boot these fools out..

    December 14, 2012 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  11. Name. American

    To all: Be of good cheer. For god has the final word.

    December 14, 2012 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  12. waheid

    I make no secret of the fact that I am a committed Liberal. Having said that, the country needs a two-party system for balance. As the Tea Party pushes the G.O.P. farther and farther to the right, they are weakening the G.O.P., making it less viable as a national party. The best thing that could happen to the G.O.P is for the Tea Party is to fade to black. In any case, neither party needs the kind of rigid idealogues that we find in the Tea Party today.

    December 14, 2012 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  13. monroe

    the racist tea party needs to go away–taxes need to go way up to pay for all these government costs-I'm tired of my benefits getting cut!

    December 14, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  14. sputnick1

    These tea party members need to be thrown off the baot into Boston Harbor with no lifejacket.

    December 14, 2012 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  15. Joe citizen abroad

    It's not a party. And it has nothing to do with taxation without representation. It's a bunch of ideologues who are completely out of touch with reality. Good riddance.

    December 14, 2012 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  16. Russ in Md

    The most dangerous thing this country we'll see is not the Tea Party, it is the Progressive movement and Obozo is leading the way.

    December 14, 2012 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  17. AP

    This shade of TEA is bad for your health.

    December 14, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  18. Rob Johnson

    Actually freedom is right, Obama isn't like any other Democrat to hold the office of President. He is far more conservative and less liberal than just about any previous Democratic President, except maybe Bill Clinton.

    Your freedoms were under much graver threat when Dick Cheney was running this country, whether you know it or not. The fact that Obama wants a different health care policy than you do, or favors a different tax structure, does not in any way comprise a threat to your liberty.

    December 14, 2012 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  19. guest

    The worst political group in the last 100 years. They show up for their TEA party meetings riding mororized wheel chairs (that they got free from the government), to protest government spending. Some have one for each level of their house OR houses, all on the tax payers dime. In 10 years folks won't even remember the TEA party and hopefully the same goes for the GOP!

    December 14, 2012 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  20. mhub

    The Tea Party needs to go away. Their brand of selfishness belongs in a monarchy – not a Democracy.

    December 14, 2012 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  21. Rhonda Rahn

    If we go over the fiscal cliff, the House Republicans will (correctly) get the blame. The GOP has become the fantatical, obstructionist Tea Party of NO. Let's vote the GOP out of the House in 2014 and 2016.

    December 14, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  22. JBK


    Good name for you! The o stands for empty head, as in brainless! The Tea Party are the only one with any common sense. Everyone else just looks to big Government to take care of them. Time to pay the piper!

    December 14, 2012 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  23. Willie12345

    The tea party folks have been invisible on the streets of America for 2-3 years. They are not the force that they once were.

    December 14, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    The Tea Party does not want to make deals. That's their whole point and often stated purpose in life. it's "my way or the highway" when it comes to the Tea Party. It's a good thing for America that some of their members are being shown the door to the highway.

    December 14, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Just to be clear to the lady with the sign. The Tea Party IS NOT America. The Tea Party is a bunch of disgruntled Americans scared to death that they are going to lose all of THEIR government handouts. Thus they want to take everything away from everyone but themselves. That fear they feel was fueled by a handful of greedy individuals who made millions of dollars of personal wealth off Tea Party groupies: FOX News commentators. Sarah Palin. Rush Limbaugh. Michele Bachman. Jim DeMint. Talk Radio. DIck Armey. Ron Paul. Rand Paul. So on and so on.

    These people are not freedom lovers. They are controllers. And takers. They take from each other and all who don't agree with them AND they want control over ALL Americans. Period.

    December 14, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
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