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Congress: 'Outrageous!' 'Ridiculous!' 'Unreasonable!'

NBC’s Luke Russert reported last night: “The gulf between Republicans and Democrats on the ‘fiscal cliff’ grew larger today as the GOP dismissed the White House’s opening offer as ‘unbalanced’ and ‘unreasonable.’

The offer is seen as a major setback by Republicans, but it also signals the White House is not about to start negotiations with major concessions after winning reelection, something the president has previously been criticized for from the left.

USA Today: “House Speaker John Boehner flatly rejected a $4 trillion Obama administration plan to avoid going over the fiscal cliff that was presented by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in a private meeting Thursday. Publicly, Boehner said he is ‘disappointed’ with the offer, but he offered no details. Privately, three Republican congressional aides familiar with the president's offer cast it as an ‘outrageous’ proposal that surprised the speaker and has set back negotiations….”

Politico: “Democrats are increasingly confident that rank-and-file Republicans will cave on taxes and force House GOP leaders to pass a tax cut plan for families who earn less than $250,000.” Sen. Chuck Schumer: “You can smell the winds. When so many Republicans say, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to give into the Democrats,’ that’s how it works around here. That’s the beginning.”

To that point, Political Wire: “Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) ‘came up with what might be the most creative excuse yet’ for breaking his pledge not to raise taxes, Politicker reports. Gibson says ‘his district number changed from 19 to 20 during this year's redistricting process and he reasoned that the pledge no longer applies to him as it was only to the constituents under the previous district number.’”

USA Today’s Jackson notes of the negotiations: “Sit back and relax, this is going to take a while.” And: “The White House on Thursday made an offer to the GOP -- basically the same plan President Obama proposed during the election, one that emphasizes higher taxes on the wealthy as a way to reduce the nation's $16 trillion-plus debt. Republicans attacked the White House plan -- just as they did during the election -- saying it promotes tax rate hikes but fails to detail meaningful spending cuts.”

More: “Government officials may well spend New Year's Eve crunching budget numbers rather than clinking champagne glasses.”

Outside game… Major Garrett: “If there is one redeeming feature of the otherwise gutless and indolent sequestration process, it is the underappreciated component of hysteria. Already, local news stations are running “fiscal cliff” countdown clocks. Fevered curiosity over the ebb and flow of cliff negotiations is rising and may soon creep near the Kardashian or One Direction pop-culture summit.”

Democratic advantage… Ron Brownstein: “The same dynamic that powered the Democrats’ unexpected Senate gains this fall could also give the party more leverage to drive its legislative agenda through the chamber in the months ahead. At the core of the Democrats’ surprising pickup of two Senate seats was a consistent pattern. In almost every major contested Senate race, exit polls showed that the Democratic candidate won more support among voters who also backed President Obama than the Republican nominee did among voters who backed Mitt Romney.”

The revolving door keeps on turnin’… Politico looks at all the would-be/ex-congressmen and women headed for or likely headed for K Street or lobbying jobs, including Reps. Heath Shuler (D-NC), Jason Altmire (D-PA), Geoff Davis (R-KY), Mary Bono-Mack (R-CA), Connie Mack (R-FL), Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX), ex-Sen. George Allen (R-VA), Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), and GOP favorite Puerto Rico’s Luis Fortuno.