Budget Battle Begins: Historic Ideological Shift

Republicans pick apart Obama's budget, calling it the return of big government.

ByABC News
March 1, 2009, 1:20 PM

March 1, 2009— -- President Obama said he expected a vicious fight over his budget, and this weekend he got the first taste of battle.

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh kicked off the weekend with a major speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference meeting, saying that Republicans must return to their core beliefs and that's it's OK to criticize Obama's plan.

"What is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundations?" Limbaugh said.

But not all Republicans all falling in behind the rhetoric.

On "This Week," ABC News' George Stephanopoulos asked House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., if Limbaugh's approach was that of the House Republicans.

"Absolutely not," Cantor said. "And I don't -- I don't think anyone wants anything to fail right now. We have such challenges. What we need to do is we need to put forth solutions to the problems that real families are facing today.

"This budget obviously has raised a lot of concerns and a lot of different areas," Cantor added. "But let's remember what the priority should be right now. The priority should be focused on preserving and protecting, creating new jobs."

Obama's administration wasn't so quick to let Congressional Republicans distance themselves from Limbaugh.

Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that Limbaugh is the "intellectual force" of the GOP and that Republicans now have to live with that choice.

Obama submitted an ambitious $3.5 trillion budget Thursday that – love it or hate it – aims to expand the role of government, increase taxes for the wealthy and cut tax breaks for powerful industries, including the nation's oil giants.

"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 this weekend. "My message to them is this: So am I."