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. jorge washinsen

    The only thing missing in the whole fiasco of the Tea Party movement was the black helicopters flying around over people's houses, like the day of the Clinton -Bush 1 era. Slickest trick the Democrats ever pulled inventing the Tea Party.

    December 13, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    "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."

    Rand Paul stated this exact same thing just yesterday. Guess you didn't get the accompanying memo stating that by backing off Paul was actually admitting he doesn't have a leg to stand on if he wants to remain a viable presidential candidate. Also known as capitulation ... which isn't exactly a TP meme, is it? Unless you are Rand Paul looking out for Rand Paul.

    December 13, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. rs

    The whole TEA Party thing has destroyed the GOP brand and made it completely un-sellable. The GOP will be lucky to survive their little adventure in wackyland.

    December 13, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. Homey

    About those trillion dollars a year deficit: Where is it going? How can you spend that much legitimately? Who is getting the money? It isn't the little guys, because they haven't had a huge increase in income. It isn't neighborhood banks, because they don't have any more money to loan locally. I just want to know where that huge increase in spending is going. Perhaps it is to the Israeli government where cheap muslim missiles are being shot down with American-financed missiles that cost us100's of times more. Maybe to finance revolt in Syria and Egypt. Maybe to spy on China's and Korea's own spy networks. Maybe we should just stop this worldwide immersion in other people's governments and try to make this country financially and morally strong. We need to look at where that money is going and stop the bleeding!

    December 13, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    What started as the Tea Party no longer exists. It has been consumed by special interests, and now represents a side of American Society. They are fanatically intolerant of anything that does not conform to their world view.

    December 13, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. Mike Savick

    The tea party representatives and senators who are alleged deficit hawks should be challenged to volunteer military instalations and government contracts in their districts for closure. They can be sacrificed on the altar of Grover Norquist. Show us the courage to cut government spending where it affects your communities!

    December 13, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. PhiliaToo

    We don't need the GOPT anymore. As they continue to self-destruct, we can split Democrats into two parties; Progressives and Conservatives.

    December 13, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. BCasero

    The reason the Tea Party is losing its clout is because no one kept an eye on their membership and allowed them to wonder off aimlessly. Not being the brightest bulbs in the box, they are having a difficult time finding there way back. Fortunately, that's good news for America.

    December 13, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  9. Mike Savick

    Private industry hires people (all tax deductible as business expense), buys goods and services (also deductible) and produces good and services. Government hires people, buys goods and services from the private sector and provides goods and services. Government spending ends up in the private sector in one or two cycles. Food stamps (snap) goes directly to the grocer. Contractors are just as happy to pave a public or provate parking lot. Walmart doesn't care where you paycheck comes from when you purchase goods. Government sopending fuels the economy and jobs like any other local spending. There is little incentive for either party to cut government spending in a down economy.

    December 13, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  10. Mike

    The Tea Party is falling faster than it rose. The reality is that the majority of Americans do not align themselves with thier thinking.

    December 13, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    The Tea-party along with a lot of main stream GOPers thought that if you just cut off government revenue by reducing taxes that would force the government to cut spending. What they didn't count on is the fact that most Americans want the things that government spends money on. Fewer people buy the nonsense that raising taxes destroys jobs or that cutting taxes saves jobs. Whether the government or the private sector spends the money, its still the same amount of money being spent. For god's sake, there is a multi-trillion dollar industry built around government spending on defense, an industry and spending wholeheartedly embraced by the GOP! Moving forward, there is no way to reduce the deficiet without raising some taxes. The GOP has to decide to rejoin reality and the rest of America and stop their obstructionist ways or they will continue to pay the price in the voting booth. Unfortunately, too many are more loyal to their party then they are to their country.

    December 13, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  12. Anne

    Joege, you need to get your facts straight. The Tea Party has been working from within the REPUBLICAN party. I would imagine the Republicans are get pretty uptight right now considering all the damage the Tea Party has done. Well, We'll know soon enough.

    December 13, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  13. Oneslydragon

    The real problem is the GOP has this stupid rule we all vote the same way. Let everyone vote their conscience and see how things improve. The individual represetative's constituants will agree and keep them or disagree and vote them out.

    If the GOP will continue to be ruled by a MINORITY of unyeilding troglodites, they deserve to be put out of power.

    December 13, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. RinosRwinos

    I thing everyone understands we need to cut spending, balance the budget, and reduce the deficit. What we don't are ideological, unreasonable bureaucrats. Your were sent to Washington to solve a problem, not create one.

    December 13, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. Allen

    At least the tea party destroyed the GOP for us... occupy couldn't do that no matter how many places they roosted. Republicans are gutting themselves as is only appropriate. Enough to make this old liberal smile.

    December 13, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  16. David Crosby

    You are being punished for trying to install a racist Theocracy in a Democracy..Wait til 2014..No more Republicans...Na na na na Hey hey Goodbye...

    December 13, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. Zenger Folkman

    "What started as the Tea Party no longer exists. It has been consumed by special interests," Rudy NYC I'm here to tell you that they've been consumed by special interests since day one, at least in my state. I went to their ignaugural rally on tax day 2009 on the grounds of the state capitol. Every wingnut in the state was there espousing causes that had nothing to do with the tax-avoidance, goverment-slaying interests of the libertarian organizers. Unfortunately, when you stir up the hive of government haters you wind up with the whole she-bang of immigrant bashers, racists, gun nuts, home schoolers, "bobble" thumpers, women's rights deniers, gay-haters, conspiricy nuts, etc.

    December 13, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  18. rs

    The problem with the GOP/TP and leadership is very, very simple. They have managed to stake out the wrong position on many political issues with unerring accuracy.

    On women: they are against health care, birth control and are anti-abortion extremists
    On the emvironment: they don't believe in science- and prefer the Bible as a resource; would do away with the EPA
    On working class issues: they favor raising taxes on the poor and middle class; they are anti-union, minimum wage or workers' rights
    On the economy: tax cuts for the rich
    On education: charter/private schools at the expense of public schools; would do away with the Dept. of Educ.
    On foreign affairs; pro-Israel at all costs; pro-war; anti-UN
    They've tried to insert religion (over science) in the schools
    They are anti-voter's rights
    They are anti-Immigration reform
    They are anti Civil rights
    and on and on.

    Their popularity and trust pummets, and yet they ramp up even more radical laws, and say outlandish things.

    They are doomed by their own actions- and the fiscal cliff "negotiations show them for who they really are.

    December 13, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  19. us_1776

    Norquist is a subversive Muslim traitor.

    And the TEA party needs relegated to the rubbish bin of political history.


    December 13, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  20. michael

    The Real Long-Term Budget Challenge


    Bruce Bartlett held senior policy roles in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and served on the staffs of Representatives Jack Kemp and Ron Paul. He is the author of “The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform – Why We Need It and What It Will Take.”

    On Dec. 3, the Government Accountability Office released new estimates of the federal government’s long-term budget outlook. They show that our real long-term problem is quite different from the one constantly portrayed by congressional Republicans.

    Today’s Economist

    Perspectives from expert contributors.
    As the table shows, spending is not out of control. Entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare are rising gently as the baby-boom generation retires. All other spending, including that for the military and domestic discretionary programs, falls – with the notable exception of interest on the debt. Interest rises sharply as the deficit rises, principally because the G.A.O. assumes that revenue will not be permitted to rise above its historical average – as Republicans continually insist.

    December 13, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  21. Misterg

    Now TP can go back to what it really means .Toilet paper

    December 13, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Typical of the Dems, they really have no idea what the Tea Party stands for, nor do they want to find out. They have their speculation of what the Tea Party is about, but in a vast majority of cases they are completely off base. The Tea Party is what our founders had in mind. Minimal government, minimal intrusion on our personal lives, fiscal responsibility, and so on...but Dems don't understand what fiscal responsibility is, or how it works, nor do they care about freedom from government intrusion into our lives.

    December 13, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  23. Say what you think they want to hear

    Tea parties are for little girls with imaginary friends

    December 13, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. rs

    Sorry to burst your bubble. The TEA Party is a wholey owned subsidiary of GOP Inc.(paid for by Rove, the Kochs, and run by Dick Armey and the like). It is the GOP's more radical, inflexible and racist brand. Nothing more, nothing less.

    December 13, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. michael

    This generation that spent the $16 trillion must pay it off themselves, they cannot pass it on to the next generation. Raise taxes AND cut spending, pay off this debt, bring it back down to $400 billion like it was before the first burning Bush. If you pass it on to our generation, we will cut off your social security in exchange, how do you like them apples?

    December 13, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
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