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. Joi Gibson

    @ the Real Tom Paine

    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 |

    You tell 'em Tom Paine!

    December 13, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. Joe

    Ronald Not all repubs are bought by the rich

    December 13, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. Bob Lewis

    What people are finally realizing about the Tea Party, is that they have no intention of changing government for the better; they want to END government as we know it. Therefore, they are opposed to any form of compromise or negotiation, It's their way or nothing, every time. Government cannot function this way, so government will have to shed these people or ultimately be rendered completely useless.

    December 13, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. Flabbergasted

    Soon to be added to this illustrious list, the Tea Party will join the other political parties who are no longer with us: Federalist Party, Jeffersonian Republican Party, National Republican Party, Anti-Masonic Party, Whig Party, Liberty Party, Free-Soil Party, The Know-Nothing Party, Greenback Party.

    December 13, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  5. Hoot

    "Being punished for their views"? They should realize that there are consequences for their actions. When they stand in the way of the will, not only of the American people, but of their own leadership, they should expect to suffer some consequences. It is time for the far right to realize that they do not represent all the people, only a relatively small minority and the Congress' job is to serve all the people. That means compromise.

    December 13, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |

    Tea party? What's party? They're just the extremist on the right and still part of the GOP brand.

    December 13, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. John

    Libs, is Obama responsible for anything?
    You libs bash and bash, but not Obama when he is in charge? God help us all.

    December 13, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  8. Steve

    Now now tea partiers, when will you learn? It is politically correct now for the republicans to be just like the democrats. The country wants just one party and for everyone to agree on everything you sillies. Don't worry about enslaving your children to monstrous debt, everyone is doing it. The most important thing is that none of us have a bad economy next year or suffer in the least for our spending, that is why we must sacrifice the children.

    December 13, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. The Real Tom Paine


    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.
    No, but they are the primary problem right now in moving forward. As far as tax increases and spending, take a good look at your GOP governors that slap fees on everything that moves, who cut taxes and don't really reduce savings in a meaningful way and still expect ( and get) their TP reps to bring pork back their states.

    December 13, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. tv22

    That's rich. Some politicians are upset because the process of appointing chairs and leadership positions is political, like it always has been? Give me a break.

    As a Republican, I'm happy Boehner is finally knocking some heads together. We need revenue and reductions in spending. Even the best proposals get us to smaller, but still substantial deficits for the foreseeable future. At some point there is going to need to be a reconciliation of what kind of taxation we want and what programs we want to sustain.

    December 13, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. Bobby in SC

    Just what we needed.Another hate filled article vilifying average Americans for using their rights of freedom of speech. Those on the left seem determined to smear anyone who opposes their point of view.The members of the tea party stand for one thing and you can see that in the name.TEA standing for TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY!They are against an unsustainable ever expanding government that spends more money then it takes in.To the tune of over 1.3 TRILLION dollars annually over the past 4 years.They know that type of spending CANNOT go on!Taxing the wealthy will never even dent those kind of deficits!Unless MAJOR reforms take place,and SOON!!!We are in a lot of trouble in this country.The trouble is not the tea party.It is our elected officials!In a country divided NOBODY wins!Let's stop with the petty name calling and get serious about getting our country back on the right track!

    December 13, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  12. HenryMiller

    The Tea Parties and the GOP in general should just back off and let the Dems own the wreckage they'll almost certainly cause if they try to run the economy their way.

    Europe, particularly Greece, are coming economically unglued by exactly the policies American Democrats espouse but they seem too thick-witted to catch on. The only way they'll learn is by killing the American economy, and that's the only way Americans will learn that trusting Democrats to manage an economy is like trusting an alcoholic to manage a booze store.

    December 13, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  13. dave

    While promoted as a spontaneous "grassroots" movement, many of the activities of Tea Party groups were organized by corporate lobbying groups like Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity.ddd

    December 13, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. Voice Crying In the Wilderness




    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
    Amen. Very Good Question!

    December 13, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  15. Alina77

    Tea Party is FIRED.!

    December 13, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. Geoz

    The TP has great intentions. I just happen to disagree with the means, the solutions they seek. I think the solutions they profide are profoundly harmful to our country.

    On the other hand, I also resent the TP for the denial of the hateful and fearful messages that some members send under the guise of being the "real America." The ignorance that is perpetuated, and then defended by the leadership, is ludicrous.

    December 13, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  17. Nick

    I'm not sure I agree with "the new reality". In a recent poll 89% of those surveyed thought we should cut expenditures as part of the fiscal cliff discussions. That is far higher than any poll to raise taxes, partially or across the board. Doesn't sound any different to me...

    December 13, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  18. wonderabout

    Let's lay this on the line for all Tea Party Lunatics – The PEOPLE are keeping the scorecard now. We are watching all the BS and totally unreasonable opposition to the President and in turn THE PEOPLE and our collective survival.... it's time to stop protecting corporate criminals, stop the greed, and work for the PEOPLE..... No more billions in entitlements for corporations, they need to pay taxes, period – those making more than $250 thousand a year, you can afford a few more dollars – those of us making less than $20K per year CAN'T..... cut the crap and get to work!

    December 13, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  19. California Gary

    The GOP made a deal with the devil when they embraced the Tea Party in 2010. While the Tea Party helped the GOP gain a majority in the House, they also made it impossible to govern in a reasonable manner. Additionally, they made it impossible for their nominee for president in 2012 to take moderate positions.......they forced all their candidates to the far right in the primary process, making it very unlikely they would have success in a general election. I think the GOP powers that be now realize they must shed the Tea Party to have any chance of electoral success in the future......but it promises to be a messy break up. They are now reaping that which they have sown.

    December 13, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  20. rs

    Bobby in SC-
    So how low do taxes have to go? They are the lowest in a generation or two- and look at how well it worked with the GOP/TEA Party in charge. "Cut taxes and spend" was a stupid idea. And why in the world the so-called TEA Party supports the richest Americans for more tax cuts is just crazy.

    December 13, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. Ken in MD

    Tea Party, are they still around?

    December 13, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. wiseup

    wiseup: one uncompromising T party extremist in allen west is now on the outside looking in. two more were defeated from getting in the senate in Akin and Murdock. fortunately they ran there mouth about abortions letting people know just what moronic ideas they were selling. The voters weren't buying and elected their competitor. In 2014 more of these T-party(I want to do away with govt.)extremists need to go. You had your chance and blew it.

    December 13, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  23. RDrago43

    The Tea Party is similar to the Taliban: both are idealogues, don't believe in compromise and their way is the true path.

    December 13, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  24. rs

    Perhaps it is also time to rexamine just what the so-called TEA Party is:
    Created and funded by the GOP, the Koch Brothers, Tom Delay, and others affiliated with the usual pro-Republican causes to gin up the ultra-right to support the GOP. It would be funny (if not tragic) for the poor fools who actually believe they are part of some sort of real people-led movement to realize they have been bought by some of the richest in America to be their mouthpieces to reduce their own (already low) tax rates.

    It is instructive to remember that the top tax rate used to be in the 80-90% rate for top earners as recently as the 1950s. It is through these crazt front groups like the TEA Party or the John Birchers before them that rates have continually been peeled back by the GOP- and now they refuse to even consider a 2 % uptick.
    If it were me- I'd offer Boehner a return to 19858 levels- 87% and start negotiations there.

    December 13, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "While the Tea Party helped the GOP gain a majority in the House, they also made it impossible to govern in a reasonable manner. "

    That's a feature, not a bug. Mission Accomplished.

    December 13, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
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