In the months leading up to the midterms, President Barack Obama and Democrats tried to label Republicans the "party of no."
But in the weeks since the election, Republicans have come out of the gate swinging, prompting the president to peg them as the "hostage takers."
And with liberal Democrats in the House revolting over the deal Obama worked out with Republican leaders to extend tax cuts to all Americans rather than just those making $250,000 or less - a key campaign promise - the president is in a tight spot. He'll face a larger class of Republicans coming in with the new Congress next month and Democrats remaining defiant despite their weakened standing.
All 42 Senate Republicans last week issued an ultimatum, refusing to move ahead with any other issues being considered by the lame-duck Congress until the dispute over extending the tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire at the end of the year, was resolved and an extension of current government funding was approved.
It was a bold move by Republicans, who won control of the House of Representatives in last month's midterms and weakened Democrats' power in the Senate. Supporters said Republicans were standing up for their principles, while Democrats likened it to a congressional temper tantrum.
"Mitch McConnell and the Republican senators that signed that letter last week said basically, 'You are going to play by our rules or we're going to take our ball and go home,' " said Democratic consultant Mo Elleithee.
So far, the White House has been forced to play by GOP rules.
With Congress at a stalemate, Obama this week announced a deal worked out with Republican leaders that recommended extending the tax cuts for all income levels for two more years.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with