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Gene Sperling, an economic adviser to both presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, says the biggest difference between the two administrations is the nature of the Republican opposition.

The internal battle between Tea Party members and other Republicans is making it more difficult for Obama to negotiate agreements on immigration and other issues, Sperling told reporters at a Tuesday breakfast.

It's "the challenge of having divided opposition when you want to get things done," said Sperling, who will soon be leaving his post as director of the National Economic Council.

By contrast, Sperling said that during the 1990s Clinton faced relatively united Republican opposition, making it easier to flesh out deals on budgets and welfare reform.

The recent emergence of the Tea Party -- which, like Obama, Sperling described as one faction of one party of one house -- "has discouraged the type of compromise that is essential" to passing major legislation, Sperling said.

Of course, Obama and congressional Republicans have wound up cutting budget deals, however limited and however late.

And Republicans, Tea Party or not, have been totally united in opposition to Obama initiatives, particularly the health care law.