Obama seemed ready for the House Republicans to pounce, reportedly telling the gathered GOP lawmakers: “feel free to whack me over the head because I probably will not compromise on that part [tax cuts],” according to two sources in the room.

That’s basically what they did, hitting Obama for more than 30 minutes with questions about deficits, taxes and spending. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), won applause from his GOP colleagues when he asked the president whether he would promise that the stimulus would not be an excuse to raise taxes or increase spending.

Obama responded, according to sources in the room, that he was worried about the deficit and debt, and promised that his fiscal 2010 budget – coming out next month – would make hard choices in terms of spending cuts in an effort to reduce the deficit.