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. vp

    Republicans are vindictive little people.

    "primarying" wasn't a word until they made it one by exacting revenge on one another.

    December 13, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  2. Keith

    The faction aka the Tea Party could not be more out of touch with the American manistream. Not a solitary clue how our system of government works.

    December 13, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  3. longshot

    these tea party nutjobs are not leaders, not part of a political process – they are some of the most simple-minded people ever, anywhere, and don't belong in government

    December 13, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  4. Fla native

    Someone please correct me: Did we not elect these folks to go to DC FOR OUR BENEFIT? Are they not there to help our country? I'm all for a balanced, common sense approach. The wealthy can go back to paying what they used to. The tax cuts DID NOT help out, only increased the issues. I'm all for intelligent cuts, let's start with the military. I'm not concerned if some guy 8,000 miles away hates us. The people need more power to effect change and control these egomaniacs.

    December 13, 2012 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  5. IvotedforObama

    They only exist because the racist element of the US voted them in. Where was the tea leaves when Dumbya was in office?

    December 13, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  6. El Flaco

    Let us be blunt. The Loose-Cannon wing of the Conservative movement – the Tea Party lunatics, Palin-Paul-Bachman-Santorum-Pawlenty-like Conservatives, lunatic billionaire brothers, most Republicans in the House, etc. are simply not smart enough or good enough to lead this country.

    By "not smart enough," I mean they are not very intelligent, not well-educated, not well-read, and psychologically unstable (Palin, Bachman, Koch’s boy governor in Wisconsin).

    By "not good enough," I mean that they are not nice people. They are mean-tempered and punitive. They are aggressive and uncivil. They are deceitful. No matter what they say, when they get power they use government exclusively to reward friends and punish enemies. I would not hire them. I would not socialize with them. I would not allow them to babysit my children. I would not trust them with a red-hot stove. They have no commendable characteristics except for Palin, who is cute. They are utterly and unquestionably unworthy of leadership. If elected, they would be led around by Karl Rove or someone just like him, like poodles at a dog show.

    I'm tired of humoring Conservatives by pretending that they are like me except they just happen to have a different opinion. I’m tired of thinking quietly to myself that they are TOTALLY INSANE!!! Shall we give the keys to the nation to a group of loose cannons and con-artists because we are too polite to spit out the obvious truth to each other? As for me, I can't do it any more. Those people are nuts, loco in the coco, dingbats, dingalings, crazy, unstable, unconnected with reality, not normal in any way, bizarre, creepy, and obnoxious. They are not nice people at all.

    Pretending that the Tea Party Crazies are normal is like being a member of a terribly dysfunctional family. Shall we act members of a dysfunctional family who pretend that Daddy is not drunk every night? Shall we be like the dysfunctional family pretending that Uncle Roger doesn't have Alzheimer's?

    December 13, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  7. Sadie Boyd

    "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."

    So true and they will go down in history as crazed mean people!

    December 13, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    The Tea Party is a domestic terrorists organization.

    December 13, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  9. Namedavid williams

    Soooo tired of these guys always wanting cuts, cuts, and more cuts. Things need to be done, things need repairing, taxes are at historical lows already, but they insist on not paying for things.

    December 13, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. Steve

    Jim Jordan is a great role model. No deal has been struck, no legislation has been written, and yet he has already cast his vote. It is representatives like this that need to be removed from office. I can support someone who has differing opinions than mine, but I can not give any validity to a Congress person who doesn't even wait to hear what the legislation is before they state they won't vote for it.

    December 13, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  11. Rick McDoomsday

    don't worry all you Tea Party haters...under the Obama dictatorship he will probably rule being in the Tea Party illegal and force those to either resign or be sent into exile. Then he'll go after FoxNews.

    December 13, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  12. ritmocojo

    What we are seeing of the GOP is seeing the beginning of a vanishing species.

    December 13, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  13. Rosslaw

    El Flaco, you nailed it. The tea party does not believe in math or science. Theirs is evidence-free thinking. They wish to truly hurt the American people by foisting another wholly concocted debt/ceiling crisis on the country to demonstrate their power to tear down and that everyone better pay them mind or they'll hurt us all. It's all they've got since the ability to do something actually constructive is simply beyond them.

    December 13, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  14. cedaly1968

    I would not characterize TEA Party members as lunatics, I characterize them as impassioned about the exploding tax rates at all levels of government and the on-going spending that is not sustainable. I think the TEA Party is a victim of bad timing, trying to slice federal intervention in a free-falling economy was bad timing. The federal government does need to reduce spending and seek a surplus budget to begin lowering national debt, it's a national security imperative. But, the TEA Party approach of no compromise and draconian spending cuts is simply not how governing ALL of the people is done.

    December 13, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  15. Lindsey

    "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."

    Ummmm....HELLLOOOO Dippies....yes, you ARE being punished. For being UNAMERICAN and UNFIT for the office that some hoodwinkerd people once elected you to. All of your days are NUMBERED. I recommend you start packing now.

    December 13, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  16. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The Tea Party was no more than a proxy party of a few individuals whose only motive was to control and takeover America and change it to fit the few, they must and are being removed from Government. These people don't have the core values needed to move this country forward, they view the America of the past before all people were treated equal.

    December 13, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. Clyde

    El Flaco – Spot on and well done! Conservatives are mean, nasty, selfish people with no redeeming qualities.

    December 13, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  18. Momto3

    El Falco - I love your post! You tell it like it is! If only our media would stop acting like cowards who are afraid of being accused of "bias" for telling the truth. When tea party crazies like Bachmann get on TV and say something that is factually false, they should be called on it. Our media gives each side its say and that's fine, but when someone makes a completely false statement (not something that could be seen two different ways, but something that has been proven false by facts over and over again) they should be called on that. Our media remains silent. This causes many people to be uninformed/believe false information because when no one challenges the false statement they believe it must be true. The tea party politicians are the worse liars and purveyors of false information. They do a disservice to our country in many ways.

    December 13, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  19. James

    THe Tea Party members should not hide behind the banner of the GOP. They should break away and form a third party and let the American people decide on their policies at National and State elections.

    December 13, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  20. Facts don't Lie

    this so-called "grassroots movement" was very well funded by the likes of the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove and the C ofC and it turned more into a power grab...even inside the movement there were battles and splits. The biggest gripe I had with the Tea Party was that it decided to come out when we had a Democrat in office, the first non-white POTUS while all the slide our country had fallen into was under President Bush. Had there been a Tea Party back then even I might have considered joining it. But although I can't say the movemnt was toally racist there were racists that hid within the movement and made their feelings well known

    December 13, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  21. ART

    Maybe next go around the American people will do whats right and vote all the tea baggers out of office. I have never seen a bigger bunch of lunatics in my entire life.

    December 13, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  22. Name. Rick

    Destroiy the tea party , they are bring America down !!

    December 13, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. Billcody

    Rick McDoomsday, yeah, not at all like the Republicans saying that anyone who opposed GWB's invasions into Iraq or Afghanistan were anti American and terrrorists, right?

    December 13, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  24. gladiatorgrl

    Facts don't Lie
    Totally spot on post. Most Americans really do have a Libertarian lean – unfortunate that they let the GOP and Supremists take over.

    December 13, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  25. R

    Really admirable of all you protecting all those helpless multi-billionaires but the rest of us have had enough.

    December 13, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
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