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. Jeremy Cedotal

    i say republicans need to stand aside and let the dems have exactly what they want...if it works they can have all the credit...if it doesnt, they get all the is not the time for these childish games....

    December 12, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  2. Jam.Nat

    Tea-Partyiers have cost the Republicans probably five if not more Seanate seats in the last two election cycles and their uncomprimising attitude lurched the party too far to the right and it the right cost Romney the election. The problem is this president is a snake who has hoodwinked a major part of America and the press has been hoodwinked too. The US is in for one hell of a ride these next two years.

    December 12, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  3. Dennis

    Cut what? Cut Grandmas medicare or cut the military? THEIR ARE NO EASY CUTS. The things we spend money on are very dear and necessary to all. If the GOP wants cuts, tell us what to cut.

    December 12, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  4. CBR

    The fiscal crisis is a problem that needs to be solved swiftly and powerfully. Politicians need to give up all these labels and just vote to move forward. At the very least, the Congress needs to call for a tax cut for the middle class. It is can extend to the first $250,000 for all Americans it will be a good decision. The Congress needs to rise up and support this idea. Speaker Boehner needs to get them into the House and push for a vote on this idea.

    December 12, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  5. belinda

    Thank you to the tea party of do nothing. Your participation in this last election, really helped. People have been educated on where you stand and you know what ? 70% of Americans don't like you or where you stand. You represent Americans who just don't care about anyone but themselves, but when you're down and out, you are the first ones out there with their hand out. As was proven by fact that Republican states have the highest food stamp ratings. keep talking. As a middle class tax payer that has never paid less than thousands in taxes, every year, I would rather feed people, than put money in the pockets of the rich any day.

    December 12, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  6. Hillcrester

    Looks like some TP-supported members of Congress are prepared to lose in a blaze of personal hubris. Oh well, losing is losing–I'll gladly take their losing however it comes.

    December 12, 2012 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  7. Neurotoxin

    The wishful thinking that fiscal conservatism is somehow going away is just music to my ears. You tax hike and compromise junkies couldn't possibly get anymore desperate. Just because someone dubbed themselves "Tea Party" in 2010 when that term was cool doesn't make them a fiscal conservative; even Boehner called himself that. Case in point – Allen West; a warmongering evangelical extremist that voted for every single tax-and-spend measure for his entire time in Congress! Nice attempt at spotlighting him, but that's a Republican that would have easily voted for the compromise that's no longer there. Keep using bad syllogism to deny reality, it'll make that much more fun to rub your noses in the bottom of the cliff.

    December 12, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. Harry Pelham

    Personally I Thank GOD! for these Couragous Tea-party Republican's who are willing to stand up against this here Rogue Renegade Out of Control Dictator of a President named Barack Hussein Obama!!!!

    December 12, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  9. rude

    Alan West beat and tortured an innocent Iraqi citizen. He shot a gun close to his head to make him talk. He talked alright, saying gibberish, what ever it took to keep that psycho from shooting him.
    This is the hero of the Tea Party???

    December 12, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  10. John

    He got it wrong......the only person (people) who will stop a tax increase on 98% of the AMerican people is the Tea Party faithful.....the american public by two thirds want a tax rate increase on the top 2%......Obama will sign that tax extension without any conditions as soon as presented to him..........Ron Johnson is 100% wrong..............

    December 12, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |

    LMAO! See what monster you've created GOP??! Now, you'd better grow a pair and smack that little beast down. The tea party is destroying the GOP from within. Poetic justice!

    December 12, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  12. kirk828

    Love how my worthless congressman Jordan only gets press when he is spewing his arrogant tea party rhetoric. Such an embarassment. He has done nothing for his district. His only purpose his being a tea party puppet. Thankfully the tea party is on life support and Jordan can slither away .

    December 12, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  13. Ken

    The tea party needs to understand, majority of the people wants the tax to go up. Myself, I would prefer that they close loopholes, there is no point in the raising the tax if you don't close the loop holes. People will just look for more loop. As an individual, people are tax with the money they earn abroad whether they bring it to the US or not. Let's tax the corporation whether they bring the profits back to the US or not. We need a major tax reform to close the loopholes.

    December 12, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  14. JohnRJohnson

    The Tea Party isn't ready to deal on anything. These people are virulently anti-government. It's OK with them if the government and all of its agencies and programs crash. The human consequences are inconsequential. The most important thing to them is their simplistic ideology, which is based on paranoia, greed, and monumental selfishness. Maybe, in the dim past, the Tea Party was a genuine populist movement. But then the Koch brother showed up with wheel barrows filled with money and Americans for Prosperity popped out. At that point, the Tea Party became an obstructionist, anti-Obama crusade which has done nothing but damage to this country.

    December 12, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  15. Ken

    We also need to cut unnecessary defense spending. Why do we need a lot of presidential helicopter when we only have one President ?

    December 12, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  16. kmac

    Why the war on the elderly from the Cons. They only want cuts to direct aid to people. No welfare cuts to business are demanded. If the Cons get their way the saying "you work all your life and then you die" will come true.

    December 12, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  17. Gregory M. Newbold

    I find it amazing that these Tea Partiers are whining about being held accountable for their behavior. Their shock that they might be removed for not playing ball and being obstrutionist reveals just how arrogant they are.

    December 12, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  18. SkepticalOne

    Most Americans want to see something done by this congress. That is going to take compromise. If the TEA party doesn't learn to do that we are going to throw them out.

    December 12, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  19. skarphace

    "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.

    Exactly, and his supporters do not want to see him cave on the issue of increased taxes on the wealthy. We, even those like myself who are in the middle class and pay taxes, would rather see the Bush tax cuts expire for everyone than see them extended for the wealthy. If we don't get a compromise on the tax issue from Republicans, then we let the Bush tax cuts expire and debate whether or not to enact new cuts for the middle class with spending cuts to pay for them. No more decreasing taxes without spending cuts. That era is over.

    December 12, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  20. Patrick in Wisconsin

    What tea party?

    December 12, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  21. dowdotica

    raise the taxes and run the tea party out of town. they're probably all the people that cheat on their tax returns anyway!

    December 12, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  22. Radgast

    Just for the record, they have had plenty of time to work on this, they have chosen to wait til the last moment. They also will be fortunate to even get something done, nevermind going beyond the bare minimum. I would prefer that they overshoot the goal, tax increases yes, budget cuts yes, lower their own salaries a bit too, cut some military, Many people like the tea party concept, but its extreme and harmful, A balance, rational approach, and getting it done, and done quickly is what we want !

    December 12, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  23. organically

    These are just ten of the reasons why the Tea Party is so detrimental and damaging to America

    1) Tea Party members do not compromise although all democracy and the success of our republic is based on compromise
    2) The Tea party is trying to make all liberal policies appear unconstitutional
    3) An aim of the Tea Party is to convince the population that our government is wasting trillions of dollars, part of their plot to end most government spending
    4) A goal of the Tea Party is to perpetuate unwarranted public mistrust in government
    5) The leading paranoia of Tea Party supporters is their notion that our own government is our greatest enemy
    6)The primary ignorance of the Tea party is the belief that president Obama and liberals are responsible for all of your personal financial problems
    7) The Tea Party is trying to make the rest of us believe that the federal government hinders or somehow circumvents State rights
    8) The Tea party wants you to feel that our entire government is a complete failure, part of their goal to gain greater control our republic through elections
    9) A mission of the Tea Party is to make people believe that all government regulations undercut your liberty and that all federal regulations hinder your freedom
    10) The Tea Party is trying to brainwash you into thinking that they represent the founding fathers and understand the constitution more than any other political group

    December 12, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  24. Debbie

    TEAParty is why I left the GOP after 35+ years. It's one thing to be conservative and quite another to be almost facist economically and top it with religious zealots. At this point I've lost hope my old party will ever return to their senses. Boehner is proving that by bending over to the TEA.

    December 12, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  25. Pete

    At least some republicans are coming to their senses saying they wouldn't filibuster a tax hike brought up by Pres.Obama,wise move!!And they know their political leverage is gone after this past election that saw many a teaparty minion go down in defeat,they too can only wish they were more cooperative politically but hey that's politics,some winners,losers!!For republicans it will get worse if they don't get down to business getting jobs,infastructure and other programs gong before midterms,their political careers depend on it!!

    December 12, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
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