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'Fiscal cliff' road trip: Obama talks Scrooge as GOP stews

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Back in Washington, though, congressional Republicans were in no mood to laugh, as the prospects for a deal with the White House looked bleak. At a press conference, Republican House Speaker John Boehner said the negotiations were at a “stalemate.”

Representative Boehner added that for the past three weeks, he had been “very guarded” in his comments, because he didn’t want to make it harder to find common ground.

“When I came out the day after the election and made it clear that Republicans will put revenue on the table, I took a great risk,” Boehner said.

But when the White House put out a plan Thursday calling for $1.6 trillion in new taxes over 10 years – double what Boehner was willing to consider in July 2011 – in addition to less than $400 billion in cuts, Boehner called it “not a serious proposal.”

“So right now we're almost nowhere,” the speaker said.

Separately, the House majority leader, Rep. Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia, made clear that the Republicans have leverage, since they still control the House.

“The speaker put new revenues on the table just after the election and said: ‘We get it. The president won his reelection; we won our reelection. We have to now come together,’ ” Representative Cantor said.

Obama has been saying all along he’s willing to compromise on fiscal matters, but his opening bid didn’t reflect that. And that, analysts say, is a demonstration of how Obama has evolved as president. Early in his presidency, he had a tendency to start a major negotiation with what he considered a compromise position – for example, putting Republican-pleasing tax cuts in the stimulus package of early 2009 and not pushing for a “public option” in health-care reform.

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