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GOP Rep. Cole: White House treating Boehner like he is ‘Santa Claus’

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) on Sunday panned the White House's deficit proposal and said the administration was treating Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) like "Santa Claus" in the "fiscal cliff" talks.

"They must think that John Boehner is Santa Claus, because that's a Christmas wish list, not a real offer," Cole said on ABC's "This Week."

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The White House offer made last week, which Boehner has dismissed as "not serious," included $1.6 trillion in tax increases, $50 billion in economic stimulus spending and $400 billion in spending cuts.

President Obama on Friday also used holiday-themed language to slam Republicans for their opposition to such a deal, saying GOP leaders want to give Americans a "lump of coal" by not agreeing to his proposal deal to extend tax rates by the end of the year for middle class families and allow rate rises on the wealthy.

GOP leaders want to extend the expiring Bush-era rates across-the-board and are opposed to Obama's push to allow rates to rise on families making over $250,000 a year.

Cole, though, gained attention earlier this week when he said Republicans should pass an extension of tax cuts for the middle class now and debate tax cut extensions for higher income earners later.

Boehner quickly shot down that idea, saying it would cost the GOP leverage in talks, but the congressman from Oklahoma did not back down on Sunday.

"I actually do think we should take the thing where we do agree with the president - and we do agree on this - and take them off the table one at a time," he said. 

Republicans are also looking to shift the public discourse over deficit talks from tax rates to spending cuts, and have pressed for the White House to put entitlement reform on the table.

"There's a little bit of chicken going on here in terms of gamesmanship," Cole noted.

Cole also said that although Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in multiple media appearances on Sunday, pushed for Republicans to offer a detailed counter-offer, it is more important for both sides to sit down and discuss what they have in common. 

Republicans have already conceded that raising revenue through eliminating loopholes and deductions in the tax code is "doable," for example, he said.

"I don't think we need to put a formal proposal out on the table," Cole added.