Updated 9:10 a.m. ET
In what he thought was a private chat with campaign donors Thursday evening, President Obama offered the most revealing behind-the-scenes account to date of his budget negotiations with GOP leaders last week.
CBS Radio News White House correspondent Mark Knoller listened in to an audio feed of Mr. Obama's conversation with donors after other reporters traveling with the president had left the room.
In the candid remarks, Mr. Obama complains of Republican attempts to attach measures to the budget bill which would have effectively killed parts of his hard-won health care reform program."I said, 'You want to repeal health care? Go at it. We'll have that debate. You're not going to be able to do that by nickel-and-diming me in the budget. You think we're stupid?'" recalled the president of his closed-door negotiations on the bill to fund the federal government until September. (listen to the remarks in the video at left)
Mr. Obama said he told House Speaker John Boehner and members of his staff that he'd spent a year and a half getting the sweeping health care legislation passed -- paying "significant political costs" along the way -- and wouldn't let them undo it in a six-month spending bill.
The bill, approved by Congress on Thursday, trims about $38 billion from the government's spending authority, though confusion and consternation over the size of the bill's actual spending cuts increased Thursday in the wake of a report showing the legislation would only bring a reduction of $352 million in non-war government outlays for the rest of this fiscal year since most of the cuts come from authorized funds not intended to be spent right away.
(At left, watch Bill Plante's report on the event)
Speaking into a microphone which he may not have realized was still relaying his remarks to the White House press room -- where Knoller had been listening to earlier remarks that were open to the press -- Mr. Obama bemoaned GOP leaders' attempts to attach a measure to the budget bill which would have cut funding for Planned Parenthood.
"Put it in a separate bill," the president said he told Boehner and his staff. "We'll call it up. And if you think you can overturn my veto, try it. But don't try to sneak this through."
In the end, the deal that was struck did see the Planned Parenthood measure, and a separate effort to defund parts of the health care program, voted on as stand-alone bills Thursday prior to the budget vote. Both measures failed in the Senate.
With the limited 2011 budget now set to hit Mr. Obama's desk following Thursday's vote, both he and his opponents across the aisle are expected to move quickly into negotiations on a much larger, multi-year budget, which both sides hope will trim trillions, rather than mere millions, from the nation's towering deficit.
The president told his backers Thursday night that he expects Republicans to continue using that process to enact their political agenda under the guise of cutting spending. He specifically called into question the sincerity of Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who crafted the House GOP's controversial 2012 budget which includes significant and controversial cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
"When Paul Ryan says his priority is to make sure, he's just being America's accountant ... This is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill -- but wasn't paid for," Mr. Obama told his supporters. "So it's not on the level."