On Fiscal Cliff, Battle Lines Drawn

Lawmakers re-assert their commitment to respective partisan sides.

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Republicans and Democrats have drawn clear lines in the sand on the fiscal cliff and neither side says they are willing to cross them.

Sunday, congressional players reaffirmed their side's commitment to getting a deal, but no one seems willing to budge on the specifics.

House Speaker John Boehner said on Fox News Sunday that he was "flabbergasted" by President Barack Obama's initial cliff offering, which he said was chock full of tax hikes for those making more than $250,000 a year and allowed the president to raise the debt ceiling through executive order. Boehner said it was unbalanced: heavy on revenue increases and light on entitlement reform.

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The plan included $1.6 trillion in tax hikes, roughly $50 billion in stimulus money, and $400 billion in budget cuts.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner handed the plan over to Boehner Wednesday, but Boehner said it was hardly a starting point.

"I was just flabbergasted," Boehner said on Fox News. "I looked at him, and I said, 'You can't be serious.' ... I've just never seen anything like it.' You know, we've got seven weeks between Election Day and the end of the year. And three of those weeks have been wasted with this nonsense."

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Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole, who made news this week after breaking rank with the GOP and signaling he'd be willing to extend tax cuts for the middle class, agreed that the White House plan was unacceptable.

"They must think that John Boehner is Santa Claus because that's a Christmas wish list, not a real offer," Cole said of Obama's initial plan on ABC's This Week.

Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said the game of brinkmanship was endangering the country's economic future.

"I think we are going over the cliff," Graham said on CBS's Face the Nation. "This offer doesn't remotely deal with entitlement reform in a way to save Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security from imminent bankruptcy. It raises 1.6 trillion [dollars] on job creators that will destroy the economy."

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Graham said Obama's plan made it clear to him that the White House is "not serious" about finding a solution to the fiscal cliff.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Geithner said the White House had made a sincere offer and now the GOP had to come up with a counter one.

"I actually think that we're going to get there. I mean, you know, just inevitably going be a little political theater in this context," Geithner said on ABC's This Week. "We think we have a very good plan, a very good mix of tax reforms that raise a modest amount of revenue on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, combined with very comprehensive, very well designed, very detailed savings that get us back to the point where our debt is stable and sustainable."

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Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News & World Report. She can be reached at lfox@usnews.com or you can follow her on Twitter @foxreports.