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Obama steels House Dems for sequester fight ahead


PUBLISHED 2:29 p.m. ET -- President Barack Obama told his House Democratic colleagues that he would continue to challenge Republicans on how to best replace the impending sweeping spending cuts known as the "sequester."

Speaking at the House Democratic Issues Conference in Leesburg, Va., Obama said he wants to create an alternative to the sequester that includes some entitlement reforms but also more revenue through ending loopholes and deductions for the wealthiest earners, a point of disagreement with GOP lawmakers.

“I am prepared, eager and anxious to do a big deal, a big package that ends this governance by crisis,” he told the crowd.

Obama decried Republicans, who, he said, recognize “that the sequester is a bad idea, but what they've suggested is that the only way to replace it now is for us to cut Social Security, cut Medicare and not close a single loophole, not raise any additional revenue from the wealthiest Americans or corporations who have a lot of lawyers and accounts.”

While the president seemed to lament the lack of communication between himself and House Republicans, neither side has indicated that they negotiating in public or private. Earlier Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney lambasted House Speaker John Boehner’s reported offer, which includes cuts to Medicare premiums and federal pension programs, as “terrible.”

At the issues conference, Obama said he was steeling himself for another philosophical fight over cuts with the Republicans.

“I have to tell you, if that's an argument that they want to have before the court of public opinion, that is an argument I'm more than willing to engage in,” he said to applause.

But disagreements might not just be limited to the Republican side, the president added, saying he’s prepared to clash with fellow Democrats on key issues like immigration and gun safety.

“There will be times where you guys are mad at me, and I'll occasionally read about it,” he said.                 

Despite any such intra-party bickering, the president said he still believed Democrats would be in a good position in 2014 to retake the House of Representatives.

“As a by-product of doing that good work and keeping that focus, I would expect that Nancy Pelosi's going to be speaker again pretty soon,” the President concluded his remarks with, as the crowd erupted in cheers for their leader.