President Obama aimed a sweeping broadside at critics of his $3.5 trillion budget today, portraying them as allies of lobbyists and special interests more concerned with preserving corporate tax breaks than reviving the economy.
"I know these steps won't sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they're gearing up for a fight as we speak," Obama said in a fiery weekly address released today. "My message to them is this: So am I."
The president pitted himself against some of the nation's most unpopular industries, and he named names: bankers, insurers and energy companies.
"I know that the insurance industry won't like the idea that they'll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage," Obama said. "I know that banks and big student lenders won't like the idea that we're ending their huge taxpayer subsidies. ... I know that oil and gas companies won't like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks."
He dismissed what some industrial lobbyists complained were legitimate criticisms of the Obama budget.
"The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don't," Obama said. "I work for the American people."
Political analysts say it was no surprise he chose those industries.
"If you want to demonize the industries that might oppose your proposals, you might want to pick the ones that are most unpopular. That's what he did," University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato told ABC News. "In politics, you can accomplish more by flogging evil figures than you can by spreading hope and love and audacity."
After reaching out to Republicans and allowing them to offer changes to his $787 billion economic stimulus plan, Obama received the support of just three Republicans in the Senate and none in the House. Sabato says Obama learned from that fight and is now taking a more combative approach.
"He's trying to firm up the Democratic base so they will firm up the Democratic members of the House and Senate," Sabato said. "That's his only chance of getting most of his major proposals passed. Democrats have to stick together,"
On K Street, the Washington corridor that is home to the nation's most powerful lobbying firms, the president's address came across as fighting words.
Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, a registered lobbyist with a corner officer overlooking K Street and photos of himself with former President George H. W. Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, says he was surprised by the president's harsh tone.
"We are little bit disappointed in the tone and all we want is the process to work," Drevna told ABC News. "We believe that we have shown we can be part of the solution. this seems to suggest that we're part of the problem."
Scott Talbot, a lobbyist for the Financial Services Roundtable, concedes the banking industry makes an easy target.
"It's easy to demagogue the financial services industry right now, but at the same time, we are an important part of the economy, the American consumers are the oil for the economy and we help lend them the money," Talbot told ABC News. "And if we restore the lending -- be it on the housing, the student loans, the credit cards -- that will help restore the economy."