President Barack Obama on Monday extended an offer of cooperation with congressional Republicans over taxes and the budget in a speech a day after he met with House Speaker John Boehner.

As he promoted his plan to avoid more than $600 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts that would start taking effect in January, Obama said he's ready to make a deal with Republicans. But he held firm on saying higher tax rates on top earners had to be the first part of any agreement.

"Let's get it done," the president said to an audience of workers at a plant owned by Daimler AG's Detroit Diesel unit in Redford, Mich. "I will work with the Republicans on a plan for economic growth, job creation and reducing our deficits."

The factory visit was the latest in a series of Obama moves designed to rally popular support for the White House position in the negotiations and pressure Republicans into compromising.

Obama's rhetoric marked a shift from recent statements about negotiations with congressional Republicans. At a similar outing Nov. 30 at a toy factory in Pennsylvania, he accused "a handful of Republicans" of holding middle-income tax breaks "hostage simply because they don't want tax rates on upper-income folks to go up."

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The change coincides with an acceleration of private meetings and discussions with the clock ticking on the deadline for a deal.

Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, said discussions between the speaker's office and the White House are taking place, though he declined to give any details. Steel said a $2.2 trillion deficit-reduction plan remains the Republican offer on the table.