* New details have emerged about the White House’s opening fiscal cliff offer to Republicans: It gives Republicans $400 billion in Medicare cuts, but demand $1.6 trillion in tax hikes, and, crucially, more stimulus spending and an extension of unemployment benefits.
As the Times notes, Republicans will reject this offer because it’s “short on detailed spending cuts.” But the White House position is that it has laid out what it wants in the way of new revenue and spending, and that it’s now up to Republicans to detail their bottom line on cuts. It’s the GOP’s turn now. 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.
* Indeed, the Post account reports that the White House is demanding at least $50 billion in more spending to boost the economy.
* A key observation about the new White House offer from the Post reporting team:
While the proposal seemed to startle Republicans, it contains little that would be unfamiliar to anyone following the president’s public statements.
Obama campaigned on much of this stuff, and won. It’s not surprising it’s in his opening bid.
* As Atrios notes, what’s really startling people about this opening bid is that Dems didn’t compromise in advance.
* Another one! GOP Rep. Robert Dold says it’s time to pass just the middle class tax cuts, noting it could bring “more certainty.” As he put it: “Let’s make sure we aren’t raising taxes on the vast majority first.”
And as you’ll recall, GOP Rep. Tim Scott says this move could in fact pass the House now, but Boehner’s position isn’t changing: No tax cut for the middle class without a tax cut for the top two percent.
* Steve Benen notes still more cracks: GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack would also vote to extend just the middle class tax cuts, and Rep. Tom Cole, the author of this idea, reiterates that Republicans should heed the election.
* Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Simpson becomes the first House Republican to say he’s open to increasing high end tax rates, and if we see more of these, that could mean significant cracks in the GOP wall of opposition.
* John Boehner’s latest: He threatens that any bill that passes the Senate thanks to filibuster reform would be dead on arrival in the House. Presumably that means regardless of the merits of the legislation itself.
* Digby warns liberals: Don’t put it past Dems to agree to a rise in the Medicare eligibility age. Aides say it isn’t on the table — for now — but Digby’s right that some Dems have said it should be.
* Ed Kilgore on the interesting kabuki dance that’s going on among GOP leaders as they try to figure out how to get the Tea Partyers to accept the inevitable.
* Good point from E.J. Dionne: By endlessly elevating Grover Norquist, liberals are only making it easier for Republicans to get undeserved accolades by claiming they are not beholden to his pledge, which is ultimately meaningless.
* As Jonathan Bernstein notes, the GOP demand that Dems detail Medicare cuts first is not just silly, it’s ominous: If Republicans don’t know what their bottom line is, bodes very badly for the possibility of a resolution to the talks.
* And here’s the official White House photo of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama meeting in the Oval Office today. Supply your own caption, but don’t be too mean about it.