Several conservative organizations have assailed Speaker of the House John Boehner’s opening fiscal cliff proposal, potentially complicating the chances of a deal.
Right-wing factions in the Republican Party helped scuttle a grand bargain between Boehner and President Obama during last summer’s debt ceiling negotiations. Congress’ inability to find a compromise led directly to the $1.2 trillion in “sequester” cuts that are a central component of the looming fiscal cliff.
More is at stake this time around, as the planned first round of sequester cuts and the pending expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts threaten to throw the economy into turmoil. President Obama is standing firm in his demand that the deal include more tax revenue from wealthy Americans in addition to spending cuts.
Republican leadership responded on Monday with its first formal counteroffer, a plan that would curtail spending by $2.2 trillion while raising $800 billion in tax revenue from unspecified sources. Conservative advocacy organizations pounced.
"The President's proposal and Speaker Boehner's counteroffer fail to seriously deal with the reality of the problems facing the nation,” Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity, a powerful conservative group, said in a statement. “Conservatives are looking for a leader to fight against tax increases, to push back against wasteful government spending, and address the fiscal challenges in a bold way. Sadly this plan leaves conservatives wanting."
Heritage Action for America, a sister foundation of the influential Heritage Foundation, told the Hill in an email that the Republican counteroffer ignored the will of Americans who had voted to preserve a Republican House majority.
“Republicans were re-elected in the House to stop President Obama's agenda, not figure out creative ways to fund it,” Dan Holler, communications director for Heritage Action for America, told the Hill.
The criticisms came amid stirrings of a Republican insurrection similar to the one that repeatedly undercut Boehner in 2011. Both the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, small-government organizations that poured millions into supporting conservative candidates during the 2012 election, denounced Boehner’s decision to boot some fiscally conservative representatives -- Reps. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) -- from key committee posts.
“FreedomWorks is urging all members to call Speaker of the House John Boehner’s office and urge him to stop the fiscal conservative purge,” FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in a statement. “The enemies of fiscal sanity are tax-and-spend politicians, not public servants willing to say ‘enough is enough.’”
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Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a leading Senate champion of the tea party, also attacked Boehner's offer.
"Speaker Boehner's $800 billion tax hike will destroy American jobs and allow politicians in Washington to spend even more, while not reducing our $16 trillion debt by a single penny,” DeMint said in a statement on Tuesday.