Blame Game Begins as Fiscal Cliff Draws Near

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WASHINGTON -- As the clock ticks toward America's potential fall off the fiscal cliff, lawmakers and the president are blaming each other for the delay in reaching an agreement.

President Obama spent much of the week appealing to the pocketbooks of the middle class.

"Tell members of Congress what a $2,000-tax hike would mean to you. Call your members of Congress, write them an email, post it on their Facebook walls," the president said.

On Friday, he's scheduled to visit a toy manufacturer in Pennsylvania to make his case again for raising tax rates on high-income Americans to help resolve the "fiscal cliff" budget talks.

But Republicans say the president's only talking about raising taxes without being serious about cutting spending.

"Right now all eyes are on the White House. Our country doesn't need a victory lap. It needs leadership," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, adding that he's disappointed in the status of negotiations.

The Heritage Foundation's J.D. Foster has worked on Capitol Hill as an economist in the White House. He said Washington is about to enter Act two of the debate by looking at serious long-term budget problems.

"Our real fiscal issues are not today's deficits; it's not the tax increases the president wants to focus on," Foster told CBN News.

"Our real fiscal issues are in the entitlement programs that are out of control and they need to be brought under control," he said.

As the president continues to push Congress to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire on America's top earners, Republicans are beginning to sing a unified chorus of spending cuts and reforms.

"Revenue is on the table but revenue was only on the table if there were serious spending cuts as part of this agreement," Boehner said.

"It has to be part of this agreement," he added. "We have a debt crisis. We're spending too much."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. insisted, "The key is entitlement reform."

"I'm willing to do something on revenue without raising tax rates to help the country," he said. "But where is the president's plan on entitlement reforms?

The White House said the president's entitlement reform plan from last winter still stands.

On taxes, the commander in chief makes it clear the election gave him a mandate to raise taxes. But Foster said he's not the only one with a mandate.

"At the same time House Republicans were returned to power in a majority in the House, advocating what? Not raising taxes. Advocating what? Cutting spending, balancing the budget," he said.

Meanwhile, the sound the president and lawmakers are hearing is tick tock.

Saturday marks the first day of December, which means they only have a month to act before taxes go up on every taxpayer in America.

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.