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'Fiscal cliff' proposal: Is Obama trying to peeve GOP?

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Susan Walsh/AP

(Read caption) President Obama speaks at the Rodon Group, which makes toys as K’NEX and Tinkertoys, Friday, Nov. 30, in Hatfield, Pa. The visit comes as the White House continues a week of public outreach efforts, while also attempting to negotiate a deal with congressional leaders.

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What’s the point of President Obama’s new proposal to end the “fiscal cliff” financial crisis? This question arises because Republicans seem genuinely startled and annoyed by the details of the plan. In their view, it’s a Democratic wish list instead of a starting line for serious negotiations.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told The Weekly Standard he “burst into laughter” after hearing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner outline the plan. “Nothing good is happening” in the fiscal cliff talks, Senator McConnell said.

Let’s back up and examine Mr. Obama’s offer. As expected, it calls for $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years. The president has long said that’s his dollar goal for new revenue and that raising rates on the top 2 percent of taxpayers is the only way to raise enough cash to get there.

But the proposal also calls for $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending, according to the GOP. This would pay for some new national infrastructure, the continuation of extended unemployment benefits, and a deferral of looming reductions in Medicare physician reimbursements.

(We’ll note that this last detail, the “doc fix,” is something that both parties have agreed to for years. Whether it counts as new stimulus spending is thus open to interpretation.)

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