Image: Barack Obama
Paul Sancya  /  AP
President Barack Obama speaks after the annual Labor Day parade in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011.
updated 9/6/2011 4:43:31 PM ET 2011-09-06T20:43:31

House Republican leaders are offering President Barack Obama an opening for compromise on measures that would spur job growth. They say neither Republicans nor the administration should consider their own initiatives "an all-or-nothing situation."

In a letter to Obama Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner and House Republican Leader Eric Cantor asked the president to meet with the bipartisan leadership of Congress this week to discuss his proposals in advance of his jobs address Thursday to a joint session of Congress.

The letter lists GOP proposals that have already passed the House that they said would be worthy of his consideration.

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They acknowledged that both Republicans and the administration believe their policy prescriptions are best for the country and conceded that neither side would likely convince the other to adopt all of each other's proposals.

But, they added, it is critical that "our differences not preclude us from taking action in areas where there is common agreement."

The leadership letter came as Obama is pressing Congress to cooperate on measures that would help spur the economy and create jobs in advance of his highly-anticipated jobs speech Thursday.

The outreach to the president also comes amid public opinion polls that show Congress has lower approval than Obama on the economy, a political environment that Obama aides say he will exploit if Republicans block his proposals.

Video: Obama expected to call for new hiring incentives (on this page)

Boehner and Cantor said they share common ground with Obama on trade and urged him to send trade bills establishing pacts with Panama, South Korea and Colombia.

They also said Republicans were encouraged by remarks from Obama last week suggesting changes in the way transportation construction money is spent. Republicans said they would support doing away with a provision that requires setting aside 10 percent of road project money for specialized public works such as historic preservation and acquisition of scenic rights-of way.

They also voiced support for a plan for distributing jobless benefits in Georgia that Obama has cited as a potential model for extending unemployment insurance. The Georgia approach uses unemployment insurance funds to pay jobless workers in trainee positions.

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Video: Despite low approval rate, president focuses on jobs plan

  1. Closed captioning of: Despite low approval rate, president focuses on jobs plan

    >> where with the stakes this gets interesting.

    >>> with all these numbers as a backdrop, the stakes are rising for this president's primetime speech on jobs thursday night. kristen welker is at the white house for us tonight. kristen , good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening to be with you brian. white house officials tried to brush aside the poll numbers and keep the focus on the president's speech. on the cusp of delivering what the president hopes will be a defining speech on jobs, his lowest approval ratings to date, according to the latest nbc news " wall street journal " poll, 59% now disapprove his his handling of the economy. today, white house press secretary , jay carney , said the president understands that most americans are fed up with washington , but he's concentrating on his joobs' plan not the polls.

    >> what he is focused on is doing what the american people respect demanding that washington do. which is listen to them and not spend a lot of time trying to score political points and winning ideological battles.

    >> reporter: speaking in detroit on labor day the president a glimpse of his plan saying it would include investing in flukt and extending payroll tax cuts.

    >> there's work to be done and workers ready to do it. labor is on board. business is on board. we just need congress to get on board! let's put america back to work.

    >> reporter: with congress back in session today, some members of the leadership were already drawing battlelines.

    >> we've tried president obama 's approach. it's failed. it's time for something new.

    >> reporter: but the house republican leadership sent a letter to the president asking him to meet with congressional leaders to discuss areas of agreement before his speech. we should not approach this, they wrote, as an all or nothing situation. but the nbc news " wall street journal " poll shows the jooisht of americans have lost faith in washington 's ability to jump start the economy, mark ize mark eisenberg explains why he's skeptical.

    >> i've heard it before. people have to make it happen. not talk about it, not say it's going to happen, but make it happen.

    >> reporter: as for that republican invitation to the president, white house officials say they haven't scheduled anything at this point in time and also point to the fact that the president has already discussed jobs and debt reduction multiple times with republican leadership in the past, brian?

    >> all right, kristen welker at the white house . notably, no gop response after the president's speech. that will be interesting.

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