WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is open to the idea of discussing an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for all income levels, the White House said on Thursday.

Two days after congressional elections, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs signaled that Obama might consider a compromise with Republicans that would keep tax breaks not only for the middle-class but for wealthier Americans as well.

"He'd be open to having that discussion and open to listening to what the debate is on both sides of that," Gibbs told reporters.

"Making those tax cuts for the upper end permanent is something that the president does not believe is a good idea," Gibbs said. He said he believed the discussion would take a large part of the final weeks of this year's U.S. congressional session.

The White House said the tax discussion would also be a main topic in the meeting on November 18 that Obama will host at the White House with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders.

Meanwhile, Republicans signaled their determination to push the issue of an across-the-board extension of the tax cuts that were enacted during the administration of Republican President George W. Bush.

"On the economy, we will work hard to ensure Democrats don't raise taxes on anybody, especially in the middle of a recession," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in the speech at the Heritage Foundation.

(Reporting by Caren Bohan, Matt Spetalnick and Kim Dixon; Editing by Vicki Allen)