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. Jane Marek

    We all know they will continue to be bankrolled by billionaires and continue to push causes that make those billionaires rich. Suckers!

    December 12, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  2. CaliforniaAC

    The republicans are being unmasked before the world. It is clear they are more loyal to a Norquist pledge than to their own country. They are the party of the 2% bought and paid for to deliver the tax breaks and be a money through for the wealthy while turning their back on "we the people."

    December 12, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  3. Surfer George

    The image at the top of the article showed a woman with a sign reading The TEA Party IS America/"

    Once the Koch brothers got hold of them, the TEA Party was to America what bacon is to health food.

    December 12, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  4. sgurdog

    Welcome to politics boys and girls. You're running out of ammo and you have no backup plan so you better learn how to wave a white flag and rebuild your arsenal. Without the ability to compromise ya finished.

    December 12, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  5. phil5865

    Ā«Keep the government out of my MedicareĀ» ; enough said...

    December 12, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  6. Dennis

    Some Tea Party hardheads apparently have no intention of using rational thought and for that,they will suffer the consequences.

    December 12, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  7. mojoquasi

    What difference does it make what the Tea Party does? It's pretty apparent by now that they have the same attitude as Muslim terrorists. Do it their way or they'll cut your head off. The country is finally coming to realize that this is not the way to get things done and the evidence is overwhelming that all the Tea Party has accomplished is stop in its tracks whatever progress might have been made.

    December 13, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  8. retirednomore

    Where would the national debt be if Bush hadn't said "the government doesn't need your money and I'm going to send you $300." What would the debt be without the Iraq war "Iraq will pay for the liberation with their oil money."
    Now the GOP and the T-partiers and the union busters have decided they don't want to pay their dues or their bills. I was brought up to pay my own way. That includes the benefits that I haven't asked for or used.
    The GOP and the T-Party professes their Christian values until it comes to caring for the poor or sick in society. Then instead of caring for the less fortunate they just say let the moochers die. That doesn't sound even human let alone

    December 13, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  9. kols

    The tea party crowd has ruined the Republican party and now John Boehner is having trouble reigning them in. They are the most unreasonable people I have ever seen. Some seem like they are completely insane. Further, these tea party voters aren't going to like it when the cuts Congress makes hit them personally. Maybe next election they'll think twice before voting these nut cases into office.

    December 13, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  10. midwestmatt

    We owe them nothing. If they don't realize that all they've managed to do is obstruct and to defend the worst of American capitalism (greed, illicit gains, lying) then they're movement is finished. We figured it out and the Tea Party is nothing but hot air. Deal? No way. Raise the taxes on the wealthiest NOW.

    December 13, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  11. CrimsoninOK

    I think most conservatives are pragmatic, they are willing to talk about Revenue, but only IF the President offers meaningful and effective spending cuts. THAT is the compromise. If Obama fails to meet in the middle, i do not think TEA Party or other GOP or Democrat even should vote for anything the President offers.. The conservatives are the only side showing any willingness to compromise. I dont blame GOP and I think if we go over the cliff, the GOP will definitely explain that Obama offered nothing in the way of concessions.. He cant have all he wants, neither can the GOP. This President has shown NO ability to work with those on the other side ever since he lost his super majority in 2010. He will never get one back, and I would prefer to see GOP hold his feet to the fire and make him pay for obstinate and arrogant attitude.

    December 13, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  12. Bri-Guy35

    Good BYE West! It was my vote and many others that OUSTED you out of office!

    December 13, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  13. Minerva

    We don't allow 12 year olds to run for Congress, so why is Congress allowing a 12 year old's idea to paralyze their thinking (Grover Norquist)? A seat in Congress isn't expected to be permanent, so if they lose the next election, they lose or run as an independent.

    December 13, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  14. borisjimbo

    They built the fiscal cliff; why would they want to make a deal to tear it down?

    December 13, 2012 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  15. zlop

    Hard to keep up, who is the most recent Tea Party Co-opting occupier.

    December 13, 2012 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  16. Jay

    Those who vote against compromise will be voted out in 2014.

    December 13, 2012 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  17. ETW

    Republicans have ruined America!

    December 13, 2012 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  18. wiseup

    wiseup: Boehner and rest of republicans probably regret selling their souls to the T devils in the name of gaining control of house. Now T- party is holding Boehner's feet to fire. if he agrees to tax increase with out huge spending cuts Boehner risks losing speakership. I feel for every dollar in tax cuts they get 1 dollar in spending cuts. if boehner wants 4 tril in spending cuts then there should be 4 tril in tax increases

    December 13, 2012 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  19. Al

    Lots of luck if the GOP doesn't get rid of the TP.

    December 13, 2012 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
  20. Mark

    The tea party should be renamed the w(h)ine party. How they can attempt to justify addressing the fiscal situation by cutting medicare and medicaid but not touching those who make over $250,000 a year is truly mind boggling. And the interesting thing is the vast majority of people who support these ideas are certainly NOT going to benefit from the Republican proposals.

    December 13, 2012 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  21. Chris

    It's really simple: you want to balance the budget, make those who have the most to lose pay the most. It is only a logical social contract. I know there are those who think that the individual should get away with as much as he or she can, and the one who cheats the best wins. But those who cheat do so at the expense of our society, our country, our government. Freedom is not doing whatever you want. Freedom is relative: living within the family of your fellow human beings and giving to them as much of value as you take from them. If the scales are tipped too far in one way or the other, our society suffers. It is suffering right now.....

    December 13, 2012 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  22. Mort

    Surprise the American people voted to end the hate in Washington. Come 2014 all Tea Party Republicans will history.

    December 13, 2012 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  23. Andrew

    Dick Armey's Dick Army. Unwitting tools of the Koch Brothers, convinced they're going to take back America for the billionares.

    December 13, 2012 06:00 am at 6:00 am |

    Americans rejected them and the unhinged GOBP on Nov 6 . 2014 comes quickly for them as they sink.

    December 13, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  25. Sean

    The Tea Party: Invented by Fox News, funded by the Koch Brothers. It's amazing that people still think it's a grass roots movement.

    "I've got an idea. Why don't we start a political party to ensure that multi-billion dollar corporations don't have to pay taxes to help support the infrastructure they use. That should help everyone." Duh

    December 13, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
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