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

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Obama’s plan also calls for eliminating congressional votes to raise the debt ceiling – a shift in institutional balance of power that lawmakers of both parties might resist.

But what really appears to peeve Republicans is the lack of specificity on spending cuts. The White House proposal identifies some upfront reductions in some programs, but only in vague terms, they say. It does propose $400 billion in long-term savings from Medicare and other entitlement programs, but only as a goal. Specifics are deferred for later negotiations.

“Unfortunately, many Democrats continue to rule out sensible spending cuts that must be part of any significant agreement that will reduce our deficit,” said House Speaker John Boehner after Thursday’s meeting with Secretary Geithner.

Democrats say the other party is just acting the diva. Obama has talked publicly about pretty much all this stuff, they say, so nobody should pretend to be surprised.

But even some liberals say the list is loaded up with most of their favorite proposals. In this sense, it’s a compendium of many things the administration has been pushing. This could mean the White House is not trying to woo the GOP with upfront concessions. Instead, Obama appears to believe he’s entering these talks in a position of strength.

“This opening bid will cheer liberals – it strongly suggests the White House is willing to push Republicans very hard, in the belief that it has all the leverage,” writes left-leaning Greg Sargent in his Plum Line blog at the Washington Post.

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