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Bickering Trumps Bargaining On Looming 'cliff'

"No, no, no. Stop," he quickly answered.

"I've got to tell you, I'm disappointed in where we are, and disappointed in what's happened over the last couple weeks. But going over the fiscal cliff is serious business."

Republican aides provided the first description of the White House's offer, although Democratic officials readily confirmed the outlines.

Under the proposal, the White House is seeking passage by year's end of tax increases totaling $1.6 trillion over a decade, including the rate hikes sought by Obama.

Obama also asked for approval by year's end of $30 billion to renew expiring jobless benefits, $25 billion to prevent a looming Jan. 1 cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients and an undisclosed amount to help homeowners hit by the collapse in real estate values.

The White House also wants a new stimulus package to aid the economy, with a price tag for the first year of $50 billion, as well as an extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut that is due to end on Dec. 31, or some way to offset the impact of its expiration.

In political terms, the White House proposal is a near mirror image of what officials have said Republicans earlier laid down as their first offer â¿¿ a permanent extension of income tax cuts at all levels, an increase in the age of Medicare eligibility and steps to curtail future growth in Social Security cost-of-living increases.

In exchange, the GOP has offered to support unspecified increases in revenue as part of tax reform legislation to be written in 2013.

The GOP said the White House was offering unspecified spending cuts this year. Those would be followed next year by legislation producing savings from Medicare and other benefit programs of up to $400 billion over a decade, a companion to an overhaul of the tax code.

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