Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
President Barack Obama speaks to reporters about the fiscal cliff in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Even as cliff looms, anti-tax conservatives nix tax-increase deal

Fiscal cliff » Automatic tax increases and deep cuts don’t scare tea party faithful.

First Published Dec 23 2012 04:46 pm • Last Updated Apr 08 2013 11:33 pm

Boston • In the city where a protest over tax policy sparked a revolution, modern day tea party activists are cheering the recent Republican revolt in Washington that embarrassed House Speaker John Boehner and pushed the country closer to a fiscal cliff that forces tax increases on virtually every American and massive spending cuts.

"I want conservatives to stay strong," says Christine Morabito, president of the Greater Boston Tea Party. "Sometimes things have to get a lot worse before they get better."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Anti-tax conservatives from every corner of the nation echo her sentiment.

In more than a dozen interviews, activists said they would rather fall off the cliff than agree to a compromise that includes tax increases for any Americans, no matter how high their income. They dismiss economists’ warnings that the automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1 could trigger a fresh recession, and they ignore the fact that most people would see their taxes increase if President Barack Obama and Boehner, R-Ohio, fail to reach a year-end agreement.

The strong opposition among tea party activists and Republican leaders from New Hampshire to Wyoming and South Carolina highlights divisions within the GOP as well as the challenge that Obama and Boehner face in trying to get a deal done.

On Capitol Hill, some Republicans worry about the practical and political implications should the GOP block a compromise designed to avoid tax increases for most Americans and cut the nation’s deficit.

"It weakens the entire Republican Party, the Republican majority," Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, said Thursday night shortly after rank-and-file Republicans rejected Boehner’s "Plan B" — a measure that would have prevented tax increases on all Americans but million-dollar earners.

"I mean it’s the continuing dumbing down of the Republican Party and we are going to be seen more and more as a bunch of extremists that can’t even get a majority of our own people to support policies that we’re putting forward," LaTourette said. "If you’re not a governing majority, you’re not going to be a majority very long."

It’s a concern that does not seem to resonate with conservatives such as tea party activist Frank Smith of Cheyenne, Wyo. He cheered Boehner’s failure as a victory for anti-tax conservatives and a setback for Obama, just six weeks after the president won re-election on a promise to cut the deficit in part by raising taxes on incomes exceeding $250,000.

Smith said his "hat’s off" to those Republicans in Congress who rejected their own leader’s plan.


story continues below
story continues below

"Let’s go over the cliff and see what’s on the other side," the blacksmith said. "On the other side" are tax increases for most Americans, not just the top earners, though that point seemed lost on Smith, who added: "We have a day of reckoning coming, whether it’s next week or next year. Sooner or later the chickens are coming home to roost. Let’s let them roost next week."

It’s not just tea party activists who want Republicans in Washington to stand firm.

In conservative states such as South Carolina and Louisiana, party leaders are encouraging members of their congressional delegations to oppose any deal that includes tax increases. Elected officials from those states have little political incentive to cooperate with the Democratic president, given that most of their constituents voted for Obama’s Republican opponent, Mitt Romney.

"If it takes us going off a cliff to convince people we’re in a mess, then so be it," South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly said. "We have a president who is a whiner. He has done nothing but blame President Bush. It’s time to make President Obama own this economy."

In Louisiana, state GOP Chairman Roger Villere said that "people are frustrated with Speaker Boehner. They hear people run as conservatives, run against tax hikes. They want them to keep their word."

Jack Kimball, a former New Hampshire GOP chairman, said he was "elated" that conservatives thwarted Boehner. He called the looming deadline a political creation. "The Republicans really need to stand on their principles. They have to hold firm."

Conservative opposition to compromise with Obama does not reflect the view of most Americans, according to recent public opinion polls.

A CBS News survey conducted this month found that 81 percent of adults wanted Republicans in Congress to compromise in the current budget negotiations to get a deal done rather than "stick to their positions even if it means not coming to an agreement." The vast majority of Republicans and independent voters agreed.

Overall, 47 percent in the poll said they blamed Republicans in Congress more than Obama and Democrats for recent "difficulties in reaching agreements and passing legislation in Congress." About one-quarter placed more blame on the Democrats and 21 percent said both were responsible.

Although negotiations broke down last week, Obama still hopes to broker a larger debt-reduction deal that includes tax increases on high earners and Republican-favored cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. If a compromise continues to prove elusive, lawmakers could pass a temporary extension that delays the cliff’s most onerous provisions and gives Congress more time to work out a longer-term solution.

That’s becoming the favored path by some Republicans leery of going over the cliff.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.