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GOP 'fiscal cliff' counteroffer: What's in it?

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On spending cuts, the proposal aims to split the difference between Republicans and Democrats by turning to an idea forwarded by Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chair of the president’s own commission on the debt. In testimony to Congress last year, he suggested averaging Republican and Democratic numbers to find middle ground. 

In that vein, the deal lays out $1.4 trillion in spending cuts, including $600 billion from health programs, $300 billion from discretionary spending, $200 billion from altering a government formula key to calculating a wide array of benefits, and $300 billion from other mandatory savings.

“The Bowles plan is exactly the kind of imperfect but fair middle ground that allows us to avert the fiscal cliff without hurting our economy and destroying jobs,” according to the formal offer, which was delivered to the White House as a letter from seven top Republican leaders, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.  

Republicans pushed back against President Obama's insistence that Congress raise tax rates on the wealthy by year's end. Indeed, they were unbending on the idea of raising tax rates at all.

“In our opinion, how you raise revenue is important – which is why we have been very frank and adamant against raising rates,” said a senior Republican aide.

Regarding closing tax loopholes, they said such new revenues – as well as entitlement reforms – should be considered more fully as a part of deliberations with Democrats next year.

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