Principles or Pragmatism: Which Republican Party Are Voters Backing?

GOP Voters Tell Yahoo News Which Factions in the Party They're Supporting in the "Fiscal Cliff" Negotiations

Yahoo Contributor Network
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures as he speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, after private talks with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the fiscal cliff negotiations. Boehner said no substantive progress has been made between the White House and the House" in the past two weeks.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

View photo

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures as he speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, after private talks with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the fiscal cliff negotiations. Boehner said no substantive progress has been made between the White House and the House" in the past two weeks. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A prominent U.S. senator said Tuesday that Republican John Boehner's fiscal-cliff proposals "will destroy American jobs."

A House member said the speaker's plans are "not a good place to start."

One major think tank dubbed Boehner's idea as "worse than a dud." Another said it was "underwhelmed" by it.

Such harsh criticism from Democrats and the White House, yes?

No. Those barbs came from the GOP—Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Louie Gohmert, the Heritage Foundation, and Freedom Works, respectively.

The Republican Party in recent days has discovered itself splintered when countering President Obama's plan to avoid the mere-weeks-away fiscal cliff.

If Republicans are split and fighting among themselves, how are their constituents—the voters who elected them to office—coping?

Yahoo News asked Republican voters to tell us which side of the GOP they support: (a) the compromise-friendly Boehner who acknowledged Wednesday that tax increases on the wealthy will likely occur, or (b) the anti-tax-hike members of the party who are sticking to their guns. Here, in their own words, are excerpts we received from voters on Wednesday morning.

Republicans must avoid tax distraction, rally to principles

Speaker John Boehner has struggled to vocalize a consistent position, knowing compromise could cost the support of his base. While Boehner countered with alternate ways of raising revenue, he seemingly accepts confining the issue to taxes on the wealthy. The conflict was displayed recently when four conservatives lost prime leadership positions in the new Congress.

For this petty display of authority, I'm disappointed in Boehner. There is no justification for pursuing a deal entirely on the president's terms and the move signals that may be the speaker's intent.

One of my senators, Marco Rubio, capably expressed my beliefs: "As far as rates are concerned, I don't have a religious, spiritual objection to higher tax rates," Rubio told a Washington Idea's forum. "I have an economic objection because of the impact on growth."

If the Republican Party backs away from long-standing principles, voters' equally empowering choice of a GOP House has been invalidated. No deal is often preferable to an illegitimate one.

—Jeff Briscoe, Port Charlotte, Fla.

Here's support for principled, anti-tax-raising Republicans

It's the GOP that is very recently a house divided—and not just on raising revenue, but on cuts to defense.

"We understand that in getting to an agreement that drives down the debt ... that there are going to be cuts," says Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga. He's talking about willing cuts to defense, not forced sequestration. That a Republican would say this is new to me.

Non-sequestration cuts aside, a much more likely route of compromise proposals will have plans to raise taxes. This has created cracks in the once-whole GOP. I am a bit on the fence in this fight, but if I fall, it will be on the side of the now-seemingly unpopular conservative tea party Republicans. They're the only politicians that I can trust now because they push an agenda that goes against their peers—moderate Republicans and Democrats—in Washington.

—Greg P. Phillips, Sacramento, Calif.

Fiscal cliff is nothing but a scare tactic

I think both proposals from Obama and Boehner are misguided and fall short of what needs to be done. Rather, I support the stance of Rand Paul, a Republican senator from Kentucky.

Sen. Paul is a firm believer in the argument that lower tax rates increase tax revenues for the federal government, especially the money paid by the top earners. This spurs economic growth. The federal government, meanwhile, needs to drastically cut spending, and allow the private sector to grow the economy.

Senator Paul was quoted on Dec. 4: "It would be a huge mistake to raise taxes. It will cripple the economy."

I could not agree more.

—Patrick Hattman, Parkersburg, W.V.

It's a short climb as Republicans move faster to cave in

Why is the president so parochial about tax rate increases on the "wealthiest" or the "most fortunate" or "those who can afford it"? Because tax rates for the Democrats have less to do with revenue than with control.

The Republicans, rather than stand up to President Obama and hold him to his own previously stated confidence to raise revenue without rate increases, will likely fold. Rush Limbaugh called John Boehner's handling of these talks a "seminar" on how to cave in to Democrats.

The GOP needs to stop the in-fighting and start battling Obama.

—Douglas Stewart, Bridgeport, Conn.

Who is to blame? We, the voters, are for electing them

At the moment, my representative, Morgan Griffith, has not said which side within the GOP he is on. After the election, he had indicated that he believes extending the Bush-era tax cuts for everyone is the best course for the economy, but he has been realistic that this will not happen given the election results. In the past, Griffith has broken with the GOP before and voted against the party line, most notably in a funding bill in April 2011.

I agree with Griffith that tax cuts should be extended for everyone, but I am realistic and acknowledge this won't happen.

In the end, both parties—not just those within the GOP—must reach a compromise. I am increasingly pessimistic about the possibility for compromise since both sides are so entrenched. This includes the president. All seem too eager to push us over the cliff to get their way—much like spoiled brats throwing temper tantrums. This childishness on the part of all must end, not just the split factions in the GOP.

—Lyn Brooks, Roanoke, Va.

Count me in on the small-government Republican Party

The Republican Party is said to be riven into two camps. One would accommodate President Obama's desire to increase taxes, spending, and the size of government. One would hold fast to conservative principles of smaller government.

Count me in the latter camp. There are two excellent reasons for this as the fiscal cliff looms.

While one recognizes that politics is often the art of compromise, it is useless to even discuss such a thing when the president is dead set against it. David Gergen has concluded that Obama and the Democrats are less interested in coming to an agreement than in humiliating Republicans.

The second reason is that if the Republican Party stands for something, it must stand for smaller government. It should not be accept the president's premise that taxes must go up, but that the GOP has a better way to manage it and minimize the damage.

That is the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush (whose tax cuts are now being argued over), and Sarah Palin. That is my Republican Party.

—Mark R. Whittington, Houston

View Comments (83)