If the words of Dave Heimbold, Chair of the St. Augustine (FL) Tea Party, are any indication, the movement is far from ready to tone down its anti-tax rhetoric, even while facing calls from the Republican establishment to do so.
“We will not ‘cool it.’ We will not shut up! Long live the Republic!” – Dave Heimbold, in a letter to the St. Augustine Record published Friday.
The issue for the tea party is the apparent fracturing within the Republican Party as a result of a Capitol Hill stalemate with Democrats over ways to avert the dreaded “fiscal cliff.” As talks drag on, establishment Republicans and tea party activists have begun to see the “No Tax Pledge.” taken by many Republicans several years ago, as a flashpoint of sorts. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, along with fellow Republicans Peter King of New York, and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, have decided to break ranks in the hopes of hammering out a deal with Democratic leadership.
Graham, when faced with questions Sunday about the pledge, admitted he was willing to abandon it, but only as a means of restarting stalled negotiations.
“I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.”
This game of political brinkmanship within the Republican Party is one which conservative analysts, such as Fox News’ Arthur Herman, believe plays squarely into Democratic hands.
“The real goal is to detach Republicans from their Tea Party and conservative base, and wreck any chance of a repeat of 2010’s GOP surge–not to mention recapturing the White House in 2016.”
Sherman’s words seem to have been confirmed following a Thursday meeting which saw Democrats hold firm on their offer to Republicans. The latest deals would include the expiration of the current tax rates on the upper-end, generating an estimated $900 billion in new revenue, as well as a 5% rise in the tax on dividends to 20%. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-MO) was crest-fallen following meeting with Treasurer Secretary Tim Geithner and other administration leaders which failed to produce even an agreement in principle. Boehner, speaking to reporters after the meeting said he was “disappointed” with the lack of progress made.
“Democrats have yet to get serious about spending cuts.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who had his own meeting with Geithner, had less than kind words for his Republican counterparts on Capitol Hill, who he sees as being unreasonable.
“Republicans know where we stand. We’re still waiting for a serious offer from the Republicans.”
At least one Republican, however, is not afraid to scream hypocrisy Democrats’ newfound boldness in budget talks. The Hill’s Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist, hammered the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats in a Thursday column.
“So let’s pose a few questions and figure out who truly refuses to budge here. If Republicans agreed to return to Clinton-era tax rates, would Democrats agree to return to Clinton-era spending rates? If Republicans accepted the 10:1 cuts-to-taxes deal, would Democrats consider means-testing Medicare, holding off on the most costly taxes and programs of ObamaCare or — forget and — embracing a premium support program for Medicare?
Of course not. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he won’t even consider entitlement reform in the negotiations. It’s time Democrats find a way to say yes. And it’s time for more umpires in the press room to remove their rose-colored glasses and start looking at this honestly.”
White House spokesman John Carney, addressing reporters following the meeting with Boehner, made clear the administration’s take on the stalled negotiations, and what it sees as the GOP’s willingness to take the nation to the very edge of the cliff.
“It would be a terrible mistake. The harm done was done mostly to the American middle class — we had our economy downgraded, we had consumer confidence plunge, all because of this brinksmanship that is entirely inappropriate. We hope we won’t see that again.”