Conservative leaders: better to go off fiscal cliff than abandon principles and raise taxes

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — A group of conservative leaders said Wednesday that Republicans should stand on principle and reject both Speaker of the House John Boehner’s “Plan B” and any negotiated deal with President Barack Obama that would raise taxes — even if it means going off the fiscal cliff.

ForAmerica President Brent Bozell, Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham, Club for Growth Vice President of Government Affairs Andrew Roth and Paul Revere Project President Alfred Regnery said at a press conference at the Capitol that Republicans seem to be abandoning core conservative principles during the fiscal cliff negotiations.

“Everything that’s been announced, whether it is a formal proposal or a trial balloon, everything has been a step backwards for the Republican Party,” said Bozell. “Everything has been a piecemeal surrender. They haven’t pushed the ball forward on everything. It’s time Republicans started pushing the ball forward, saying we’re a majority in the House.”

Needham said Americans are best served by Republicans leaders who resist tax hikes, even considering the economic implications of going over the fiscal cliff.

“It’s certainly better to go over the fiscal cliff than have the Republican Party deny the American people to have one party that stands for lower taxes and another party that doesn’t,” Needham said.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, the Kansas Republican who was recently removed from a committee seat by the GOP House leadership, joined the press conference at the end, and said that many Americans were less concerned about the economic consequences of going off the fiscal cliff and more worried about the fact that “they sent many many new congressmen and congresswomen to this town to change it, and they’re afraid that the principles by which we elected a new speaker, a new majority leader, and a new House, we’ve somehow lost our way.”

Huelskamp said he was not worried about “Plan B” itself, because, in the words of Sen. Chuck Schumer, it would be “dead on arrival in the Senate.” (RELATED: Schumer says GOP “missed their opportunity” on tax plan

“It’s about core Republican, core conservative principles, and there’s a core principle here at stake in this discussion and that’s the one is [sic] Republicans believe taxes are too high already … many of these plans don’t reflect those core principles,” he said.

Bozell said the conversation needed to refocus on spending cuts.

“We are for discussion of cutting spending, we are opposed to having the conversation only about raising taxes,” he said. “And I don’t think there’s any question that Obama back ended Republicans into a corner some time ago, the discussion has been about raising taxes on millionaires and that sort of clicked during the campaign. And so too many Republicans have fallen into that trap.”

Bozell said he would help mount challenges to any Republican House member who voted for a deal that raised taxes. TheTeaParty.net, a tea party group, said earlier on Wednesday that they, too, would challenge such members in primaries.

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