At fundraiser, Obama laughs at critics

As he looks to expand Democratic majorities in Congress, President Obama on Thursday night also used a fundraiser for his congressional allies to target his critics.

The president, speaking at a joint fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), blasted Republicans who have criticized his administration's efforts on healthcare reform, stimulus spending and financial regulatory reform.

The event was expected to raise about $3 million for the campaign committees.

After listing the legislation Congress has passed and he has signed, Obama took on GOPers who have come after his administration for three of his next big and costly initiatives.

In doing so, the president appeared to be warning Democratic fundraisers that Republicans were sharpening their attack lines for the midterm elections, a subtle prod to "dig deep" lest they lose control of Congress.

Obama noted that many of the actions he has taken are "not necessarily popular," and he warned that the criticisms of his administration will only get worse as he takes on more issues.

"But that's the nature of things," Obama said. "This is when the criticism gets louder. This is when the pundits get impatient. This is when the cynicism mounts."

The president dismissed those who say he is not changing the way Washington works, laughing at critics who question whether or not change is possible.

"Can't do it. System overload. Circuits breaking down," Obama said, mimicking a robot. "It's so predictable.

"So this is exactly the moment when we need to fight the hardest. This is the moment when we need to band together."

To critics of his healthcare agenda, Obama issued a challenge for alternative ideas but brushed off Republican proposals for tax cuts for the uninsured as more of the same, asking, "What's your plan?

"Don't tell me that all you're offering is meager tax cuts to uninsured Americans," Obama said. "Don't present that as a new idea. That's the same idea that's been proposed for the last eight years."

Republicans have seized on what they say is the hypocrisy of the fundraiser, noting that Obama has pledged not to accept donations from lobbyists — and saying that while at this one he didn't take money from lobbyists, on Friday morning he will.

"This is the height of hypocrisy and just one more example of President Obama's rhetoric not squaring with reality," said Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC). "Candidate Obama said lobbyists and special interests will not fund the Democratic Party, but now the Democrats are cashing their checks as fast as they come in, 364 days a year."

Even as Obama acknowledged there will be "setbacks," he urged the donors to give so that he has a Democratic Congress to "finish the business of the American people."

"I can't bring about the change that I promised by myself in the Oval Office — or just me and Rahm," Obama joked, referring to his chief of staff and former congressman. "I mean Rahm's great, but you know, I need a little more help than that."