Obama also challenged the GOP to offer a plan of its own that independent economists would say would boost jobs now: "Do they have a plan that would have a similar impact? Because if they do I'm happy to hear it."
Obama said he intends to keep up the pressure even if his plan doesn't pass initially. GOP Members will have to explain "piece by piece" why they oppose proposals to put teachers back to work, rebuild roads and bridges and cut taxes for workers and small businesses, Obama said.
"We're going to keep on going," Obama said.
Obama also said he was "fine" with Senate Democrats' plan to pay for the proposal with a millionaires tax, but he said more work still needs to be done to reform the tax code, including implementing the "Buffett Rule" so that no millionaires pay lower tax rates than middle-class workers.
"Some see this as class warfare; I see this as a simple choice," he said, one that pits tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires against programs and tax cuts intended to boost hiring. "We can't afford both," he said.
But Republicans, even moderates who have demonstrated a willingness to join Democrats before, remain icy about the plan despite Reid's changes.
"If it's just a millionaires' surtax on top of what already was a bad bill, it doesn't work," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who has broken with her party several times to support Reid-backed initiatives in the past.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.