Washington, DC has been basking in unusually warm weather this week -- temperatures are stretching into the 70's -- but if anyone in the nation's Capitol is feeling a chill in the air, look no further than President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner.
It seems like relations between the two of them have seldom been frostier.
In fact, as ABC's Jake Tapper reports, Boehner came to the White House last night for President Obama's annual holiday party for members of Congress, but the Speaker didn't pose for a photograph with the president as he has in the past and as other lawmakers did last night.
Tapper notes: "No moment of comity and holiday cheer. No shake of hands and warm chit-chat. No friendly greeting and moment where each pledged to work with the other to resolve this dilemma."
Such is the state of the increasingly contentious fiscal cliff negotiations. Speaker Boehner called the Obama administration's deficit-reduction proposal presented last week by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner a "La-La-Land offer," and White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer was similarly dismissive of the counter-offer Republican leaders submitted yesterday.
"Their plan includes nothing new and provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would achieve," Pfeiffer said in a statement.
"While the president is willing to compromise to get a significant, balanced deal and believes that compromise is readily available to Congress, he is not willing to compromise on the principles of fairness and balance that include asking the wealthiest to pay higher rates."
Republicans proposed $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, including savings from Medicare, the Obama health plan, discretionary spending cuts and other trims. The plan would also generate $800 billion in new revenue through tax reform. However, the GOP leaders stuck to their guns -- at least in this round -- on not raising tax rates on the top 2 percent of income earners.
But Republicans have another problem on their hands: Friendly fire from their right flank. Groups like the conservative heavy-weight, Americans for Prosperity, complained that Boehner's plan came up short. "The President's proposal and Speaker Boehner's counteroffer fail to seriously deal with the reality of the problems facing the nation," Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips wrote in a scathing statement. "Conservatives are looking for a leader to fight against tax increases, to push back against wasteful government spending, and address the fiscal challenges in a bold way. Sadly this plan leaves Conservatives wanting."