The remarks were aimed at both parties. But Republican leaders may be in the tougher spot.
Many House Republicans answer to deeply conservative voters who say it might not be a bad idea to shut down large sections of the federal government — either by refusing to lift the debt ceiling around mid-February or by refusing to appropriate new funds when the U.S. budget runs dry in late March.
After voters chiefly blamed Republicans for a partial government shutdown in the mid-1990s, during a budget quarrel with President Bill Clinton, some GOP leaders swore never to take that route again.
But House Speaker John Boehner said this week that Republicans will insist on spending cuts that Democrats oppose, and they will reject tax hikes Obama seeks. The two parties are on a collision course, again.
Republicans openly laugh at the president's refusal to negotiate. Obama, in turn, is almost daring Republicans to carry their threats to the end.
The Republican policy on taxes and spending, he said Monday, "was rejected by the American people when it was debated during the presidential campaign."
Obama is less aggressive on issues, including climate change, where public opinion is divided and full-blown national debates have yet to take place. On deficit-spending policy and issues important to Hispanics, however, November's election gave him new leverage.
"Republicans are in a double bind over the debt and immigration," said Democratic strategist Doug Hattaway. "If Republicans cause a debt default and block immigration reform, they will have severely damaged the party's prospects for recovery from the thrashing they took in November."
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