President Obama is starting the new legislative year facing the prospect of more dismal relations with Republican congressional leaders.
The latest blow, still fresh in their minds, was Obama's naming of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Republicans say this was done in violation of Senate procedures and possibly was unconstitutional because the Senate was actually in session and not really in recess. This made GOP leaders furious and they are returning from their holiday break in the same bad mood, Republican strategists say.
"It shows that this guy has disdain for the rules," says a former senior adviser to a Republican president. "His relationship with Congress is non-existent....There's an arrogance there."
The only major legislation that will be enacted in the foreseeable future is expected to be a lengthy extension of a payroll tax cut that caused huge controversy several weeks ago when it was extended briefly.
"That will be it for the year," says the former presidential adviser, who has close links to Capitol Hill.
Many Republicans see the resignation of White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley as another sign that President Obama intends to run against congressional Republicans as obstructionists who want to protect the rich and big corporations while he will say the Democrats want to promote the middle class. Daley is a former banker and secretary of commerce who was supposed to help improve relations with business and congressional Republicans. His departure shows that the White House is gearing up for partisan warfare, GOP strategists say.