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. ironman59

    The "NO" attitude of the entire "right" (though they are horribly wrong) is the problem. Government has never worked on absolutes. Every successful part of this country was built on reasonable compromise. The gop/tp will sacrifice minimal changes on 98% of the population to protect the 2% who can afford a small increase. Remember we are talking about excessive & unnecessary TEMPORARY TAX CUTS that were supposed to expire 4 years ago. Right now we are well, well below historical norms on tax rates especially for the top 2%.

    Look at tax rates throughout history, especially in great economic times and you will see they were very high. Getting back to a small fraction of that is not a burden. If you want to know the problem, simply look at the viewpoint between little mitt & his dad. Dad didn't have any major issues with the tax rates of his times yet little mitt wanted in essence a 0% tax rate for everything he made. That tells you where the problem is with the gop/tp. It is all about the individual greed & not the overall good.

    December 13, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. rrmuse



    Why doesn’t anyone focus on cutting the money that corporation and other countries are getting from the government which in part is causing the deficit instead of limiting the programs that help the poor, disable and elderly?

    Helping the poor, disable and elderly seem to be more Christian than helping corporations that make millions and billions in profit and countries that would like to see us all dead.

    December 13, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  3. FactCheck

    Who cares what these domestic terrorists have to say? Last I looked, the country doesn't run on the principle of "the squeaky and racists wheels getting the oil".

    December 13, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. FactCheck

    If only they had bothered to say a single word when Bush was president and their own party had control of both houses and were doing things like setting a new record for time without vetoing a spending bill and a record expansion of government size..

    Bush was less tanned... ergo, the imperative behind the Tea Party.

    December 13, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  5. beevee

    The GOP leadership is living in a myth that not taxing the rich will create jobs. The reality is that it is not true and the unemployment rate in the country reflects that. The GOP should stop being puppets in the hands of the rich and help the middle class and the poor.

    December 13, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. Rachel

    Hey LIBS and their CNN news Org. It isn't all the T-Party that is screwing things up for America. There are a few Democrats and Republicans in Congress that are doing a fine job of bring our country to its knees with all the spending and tax increases.

    December 13, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  7. The Real Tom Paine


    Yeah, debt at the end of Clinton, $4.5 Trillion. End of Bush, $9.5 Trillion. End of Obama-1st term, $15.5 Trillion. Projected end of Obama term 2, $20 Trillion. Yup, them TEA Partiers just destroying America. Land of people proud to say "I don't know math too well"...LOL. And the people who love Herman Cain and Allen West are OBVIOUSLY racists! ROFLMAO at liberal "logic". Hate on, fools. We'll see how the 'establishment" fixes what's wrong. TEA Party all the way, baby!
    Conservative "math" led to cutting taxes in wartime, unfunded mandates in Medicare and education, and conducting war off the books. The bill came due when Obama became president, so don't complain about the tab your bunch ran up while they "ran" government Man up, and just pay up.

    December 13, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  8. FactCheck

    To become relevant, the Tea Party must separate itself from extremism and bigotry.

    You'd have a better shot asking Al Queda to separate itself from extremism and bigotry.

    December 13, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  9. Wind

    Hopefully this is the start of the end for the Tea Party.

    December 13, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. Sniffit

    "I'd don't know. I have a real problem calling an organization "grassroots" when the leader of the pack (Dick Armey) holds his business meetings at Denny's and then milks his faithful with an $8 million dollar payout once his "grassroots" organization becomes too radical even for him. Too, too fiscally responsible ... if you get my drift."

    Or when it's well documented that it's been bankrolled by giant corporations that paid for thinsg like seminars to teach people how to create the APPEARANCE of a grassroots uprising...telling them to do things like post several times under different names on sites like this one or even go to Amazon in their free time to post negative reviews of "liberal books" to give them one star and soput nasty politicized talking points about them. Don't believe me? Go to Amazon and look up the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx...a book that is pretty much just something of historical significance and something people would read in school. There are plenty of "reviews" spouting off Teatroll talking points and attacking Obama and they read like it's the same 5 people in a basement somewhere typing from cue cards.

    December 13, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  11. Rick McDoomsday

    @ Bill

    you're right we Need Obama to get what he wants then kick all these liberals who have no problem with his upcoming dictatorship to the curb. Obama wants to take all the power from the wealthy where it belongs and give it to the middle class that can't handle it. The wealthy job creators have built this nation with all the jobs they have given us all these years. It don't matter that some of these jobs pay less than getting food stamps..they are JOBS dang it!

    December 13, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  12. Sniffit

    "with all the spending and tax increases."

    Taxes are the lowest they've been in 60+ years. Thanks for playing. Here, have this giant Tootsie Roll consolation prize.

    December 13, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Expat American

    The Tea Party tells Boehner which DC spray-on tanning salon he can go to; among all other aspects of the Speaker's life.

    December 13, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. i'm confused

    And Jim Jordan of Ohio proudly adds himself to the list of right wing extremists of which my political contributions over the next two years will be supporting their removal from office...

    December 13, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  15. Kelby in Houston, TX

    "We have to understand and bow to reality at some point in time. Republicans have no power in this negotiation.
    This statement is stunning because it contains an admission that they have been operating somewhere outside of reality. AND

    December 13, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Sniffit

    "To become relevant, the Tea Party must separate itself from extremism and bigotry."

    Nah. The MSM helped them overcome that hurdle by granting them a free pass.

    December 13, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. Wilson

    The new U.S. military handbook for troops deployed to the Middle East orders soldiers not to make derogatory comments about the Taliban or criticize pedophilia, among other Islamic things. Mass beheadings, gendercide, gassing of girls' schools, mass slaughter of non-believers and less than devout Muslims, attacks on US soldiers, acid attacks on women, brutal burka enforcement ..... must not be criticzed. So speaketh the caliph in the White House. He is stalking these anti-humans for peace, after all. This country is so screwed.

    December 13, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. Dan5404

    The Tea Party is a group of mostly rabid ultra-right, non-compromising to-the-death, mostly politically inexperienced losers. The American people have made it clear to them, Norquist and the GOP that their policies for the Koch Brothers and other greedy billionaires are no longer acceptable. Everyone knows revenue must be raised and spending cut, but such people are in the way of a very necessary long-term deal to straighten out 8 years of GOP/Bush years and a worldwide economic downturn. When their influence is controlled,the worst do-nothing Congress can do what it's paid for,,,legislate for the good of Americans.

    December 13, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Folks get brainwashed by Fox News sound bites where problems are reduced to right-wing spin designed to cast the President and Democratic party in a bad light."

    I have to laugh at your comment. The last time I watched FOX (Bill O'Reilly) was - I don't know - maybe 8 years ago. He was getting into his Talking Points Memo segment ... blabbering his "looking out for the folks" propaganda mantra. Any how, O'Reilly looked directly into the camera in that creepy mind meld way of his and started on and on about how I (and presumably the millions of others who were watching) ought not to get our information from any news source but him. I tuned out and never went back.

    Apparently these TP folks take him (and ALL of FOX News) way too seriously.

    December 13, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. RONALD777

    The reality is the conservatives control the House. They need to all get backbone & stop this stupid president from bankrupting America.

    December 13, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  21. AL in West Palm Beach, FL

    Please let the tea-partiers stay...

    It makes so much easier to overlook republicans at the bollot box.

    December 13, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  22. Jim Hahn

    Republicans don't seem to want to reclaim the White House. They are doing everything they can to prevent them ever taking up residence again. You don't have to be a math major to know that you can't win with 30% of the vote. The larger the geographical area of voters, the less likely a Republican is going to win. In California we did away with gerrymandered districts and as a result, 6 more Democrats went to Washington. Hopefully we can spread this to other states and get Congress working for ALL the American people again.

    December 13, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. Robert

    They are so full of it...they lose the election. The people are fed up with their my way or the highway nonsense. Now its the typicalRepublican playbook. Play Victim. You are responsible for this debt crisis, because you cut taxes. When you cut them all the experts told you it would bring back deficts and rising debt.

    December 13, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  24. Will

    The newest iteration, The Tea Party, and all its sub groups names, will be tossed into the refuge pile of the same affinity groups before them. They are nothing new, just a new name. They are the Moral Majority,The Silent Majority, The Religious Right, The American Freedom Forum, The American Eagle Fourm, all the same people over a period of forty years, just a name change for the claim of "new". As it was then, it is the same now. This is not about fiscal restraint, its about privilege and protecting that privilege. They refuse to see a America that has changed, they do not embrace the change and want their lives to return to a white heterosexual dominated culture. Their time has come and gone, it will never return no matter how many names they try.

    December 13, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  25. Christopher Riess

    If the GOP is to remain relevant in any way, it is THEY who must kill the tea party.The GOP is now ready to move away from the religion crap that has held back their party for the past 4 + years. The Tea Party is nothing more than a holding pen for the racist, religion crazed whack jobs of the GOP. It should be easy to cut them loose. The audience for their treasonous gurglings is shrinking rapidly.

    December 13, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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