Updated at 2:58 p.m. ET on 7/30
(CNN) – A new plan from President Barack Obama that would alter the corporate tax code while investing in job creation is a deal that any "serious" lawmaker could sign onto, the president argued in Tennessee Tuesday.
What Obama called a "grand bargain" is being proposed in a bid to break partisan gridlock currently plaguing attempts to pass major legislation in Washington, though congressional Republicans signaled on Tuesday they were unlikely to back the plan, which the president announced at an Amazon.com distribution center in Chattanooga.
"Here's the bottom line: If folks in Washington really want a 'grand bargain,' how about a grand bargain for middle-class jobs?" Obama said in his fourth speech in a week centered on the economy. "I don't want to go through the same old arguments, where I propose an idea and Republicans say no just because it's my idea. So I'm going to try offering something that serious people in both parties should be able to support."
Obama suggested Congress cut corporate tax rates - long a goal of Republicans - while simultaneously making investments in job creation programs, which Democrats and the president have been championing.
In the past, both Obama and Republicans have insisted that corporate tax reform be passed alongside reform for individual earners. Republicans argue that some small business owners file taxes as individuals, and would only benefit from an overhaul of the entire tax code.
The president's plan would propose slashing the corporate tax rate to 28% from 35% while making the filing process simpler and ramping up incentives for small businesses to hire workers.
The plan would also put the tax rate on manufacturers at 25% and remove current tax incentives to send jobs overseas.
On Tuesday, Obama explained that he's open to changing only the corporate tax code as long as it's combined with major investments in programs that create high-paying middle class jobs.
"If we're going to give businesses a better deal, we're also going to have to give workers a better deal, too," he said, suggesting money saved by closing tax loopholes should be put toward infrastructure initiatives that would create construction jobs.
Obama also called for bolstering the country's manufacturing sector and network of community colleges, and proposed creating 45 "innovation institutes" that pair companies with universities and community colleges with the goal of fostering research and development.
Early reaction from Republicans to the outlines of the president's plan was not receptive.
"While I understand he is looking for headlines here, reports indicate that the policy he intends to announce doesn't exactly qualify as news," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "It is just a further left version of a widely panned plan he already proposed two years ago, this time with extra goodies for tax-and-spend liberals."
McConnell said he first learned of the plan Monday night. Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, wrote on Twitter his office learned of the proposed "grand bargain" through media reports, though White House officials said they reached out to a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Monday to discuss the proposal.
Michael Steel, another spokesman for Boehner, cast the proposal as old news.
"The President has always supported corporate tax reform," Steel wrote in a statement. "Republicans want to help families and small businesses, too. This proposal allows President Obama to support President Obama's position on taxes and President Obama's position on spending, while leaving small businesses and American families behind."
Another House Republican leadership aide said the White House was taking their own plan and making it less amenable to Republicans than previous offers, while "trying to extract a ransom of infrastructure spending" at the same time.
The aide argued the new White House plan was an attempt to "get a headline that says they're offering a grand bargain."
Obama's address in Chattanooga is the latest in a series of speeches the president will deliver on the economy and jobs, part of an attempt to turn back to the issue that rates as most important among Americans. The tour began last week in Illinois, Missouri and Florida.
Tuesday's announcement of a "grand bargain" was the first specific proposal the president made in his new push to focus on the economy, though White House officials say there will be more as the initiative continues.
During his remarks, Obama said he'd "keep throwing things out there to see if something takes" on jobs.
"If (Republicans) have better ideas to help create jobs rebuilding our infrastructure, or help workers earn the high-tech skills our businesses demand, let's hear 'em," the president said.
Amazon.com, whose facility Obama spoke at Tuesday, announced this week plans to hire 7,000 workers for its U.S. operation, with most jobs offering pay and benefits far above typical retail wages, the company said.
Amazon did not give specific pay scales for the positions, but said the 5,000 warehouse jobs will pay 30% more than jobs in traditional retail stores.
The jobs are full-time permanent positions and also include stock grants that, over the last five years, have averaged 9% of pay for Amazon's full-time workers. And the company said many workers would also be eligible for 95% tuition reimbursement for those attending college, whether or not their field of study is related to their job.
In addition, Amazon is looking for 2,000 workers for its customer service department, with those jobs being a mix of full-time, part-time and seasonal positions.
CNN's Brianna Keilar, Chris Isidore and Adam Aigner-Treworgy contributed to this report.