Washington (CNN) – Congressional Republicans Tuesday dismissed the President Obama's proposal to offset the costs of his jobs bill through tax increases on higher income workers, but signaled they still want to work with the president to get at least some pieces of his economic plan through Congress.
"When you look at what we saw in the president's pay-fors yesterday, we see permanent tax increases put into effect in order to pay for temporary spending. I just don't think that's really going to help our economy the way it could," House Speaker John Boehner said.
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, "We're happy to look at his recommendations that we heard the other night." But he also said, "The pay-fors have been around the track before and there is bipartisan opposition to every one of them. I doubt that's going to work."
Republicans repeated their message, which started immediately after Obama's plan was released, that it's time to focus on the areas in the president's plan they support, such as tax credits for businesses, assistance for the unemployed, and measures boosting international trade.
"My sense is we need to work very hard and try and peel off the things that we can actually agree on," Cantor said at a jobs forum Tuesday. "Lets get some wins on board together and then we'll just have to agree to disagree on some of the things that will have to be decided I think around the public debates surrounding the next election."
But Democrats worried that picking apart the jobs package and moving only the tax credits and unemployment assistance provisions they supported would shortchange efforts to boost the struggling economy.
"I think Cantor's statement about 'we'll take what we want or give you only what we want,' I don't think that's acceptable to us and it's certainly not acceptable to the American people," liberal Arizona Democrat Raul Grijalva said.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut, predicted that if Republicans "cherry pick" only the pieces of the plan they like Congress would "find ourselves in the same kind of morass that we have in the past."
Democrats argued that the new spending on schools, roadways and airports the President wants, but the GOP is opposing, removes a centerpiece of the proposal that they believe will generate jobs.
"Every nation in the world that is our competitor is investing in infrastructure. The Republicans are suggesting disinvestment in infrastructure, cut infrastructure investment." House Democratic Whip Hoyer said. "We know that they support tax cuts, but if that's the only thing that they will support it's not going to get us to where we need to be."
The talk in recent days of bipartisan cooperation seemed to fade as wrangling over the scope of the bill and ways to pay for it moved front and center. President Obama traveled to Boehner's home state of Ohio to ratchet up pressure on Congress to pass his proposal.
But asked if he could still work with the President, given the major differences over how to pay for his jobs plan, Boehner told reporters, "Hope springs eternal."
On the Senate floor Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid formally introduced the president's legislation. He later told reporters the Senate would "do some heavy work on jobs" as soon as it finished pressing bills related to FEMA, the FAA and highway construction.