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Obama Challenges Hill

And Obama wasn’t above a little heated rhetoric of his own, taking unambiguous shots at the Bush administration:

“Contrary to the prevailing wisdom in Washington these past few years, we cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences to the next budget, the next administration, or the next generation,” he said.

Past budgets have been “an exercise in deception — a series of accounting tricks to hide the extent of our spending and the shortfalls in our revenue and hope that the American people won’t notice.”

Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), often viewed as a Democratic bridge to Republicans, said “time will tell” if it can work, noting that cooperation is “more likely in some areas than in other areas.”

But he said Obama realizes he had no choice but to try. “I think he understands that if we’re going to get legislation that solves the nation’s problems, it’s most likely to be bipartisan,” Nelson said.

Republicans say that if there is any cause for optimism on bipartisanship, it’s because there may, in the end, be no other choice.

“I think the problems are so big that the nation needs us to work together,” House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said after the White House meeting.

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