Tensions Escalate over Fiscal Cliff Stand-Off

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As the clock winds down on the fiscal cliff, relations appear to have grown chilly between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner.

The Ohio lawmaker attended a holiday reception the president was hosting for members of Congress but skipped the traditional receiving line and didn't take a photo with the president.

The news comes as Republicans put forth an alternative to the President Obama's fiscal cliff plan.

The 10-year $2.2 trillion proposal is similar to what the speaker supported last year. But already the president is asking for more tax increases and fewer spending cuts.

The new Republican offer calls for raising the eligibility age for Medicare and lowering cost-of-living hikes for Social Security.

It would also raise $800 billion in higher tax revenue and cut $1.2 trillion in spending. Notably, it does not raise tax rates for the wealthy.

Democratic lawmakers pounced on the plan.

"Republicans are so intent on protecting low tax rates for millionaires and billionaires that they're willing to sacrifice middle class families economic security," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., charged.

The White House views the Republican proposal as unacceptable. Monday, during a photo op, the president refused to comment on plan.

The proposal the White House released last week called for $1.6 trillion in tax increases and no limit on how much the government can borrow.

Republicans declared it dead on arrival, and said the pressure is on the White House to come up with a plan that can pass both the House and Senate.

On Tuesday, the president met with bipartisan governors who didn't endorse a specific plan but said something must be done to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Some economists believe Washington's gridlock is hurting the economy and estimate that at least 200,000 fewer jobs have been created this year because of uncertainty around the fiscal cliff.

So far, Wall Street remains optimistic that a deal will be struck, so the lack of progress has not led to a market plunge.

But many ordinary Americans, like Deborah Page, are fed up. The data analyst from Texas said she got angry over the weekend watching the talk shows.

"If I was working the way Congress and the president are working, I would probably lose my job," she said.

Page is starting a petition that would halt all paychecks and health benefits for members of Congress unless they avoid the fiscal cliff.

Members of Congress technically have until the end of the year to broker a deal. But House members are scheduled to break for Christmas a week from Friday, so many believe the crisis must be settled in the next 10 days.

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CBN News
Dale Hurd

Dale Hurd

CBN News Sr. Reporter

A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at Facebook.com/DaleHurdNews.