Obama to focus on actions he can take on his own

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama's chief of staff says Congress has been "slow to action" -- and he says "we're not going to wait for that."

Denis McDonough was on the morning network news programs in advance of tonight's State of the Union speech, in which President Barack Obama is expected to announce some executive actions aimed at helping Americans who haven't benefited from the recovering economy.

Obama will be announcing a new retirement savings plan is going to be geared toward workers whose employers don't currently offer those plans. It's part of Obama's focus tonight on job training, retirement security and help for the long-term unemployed. Two people familiar with the proposal say first-time savers could start building up savings in Treasury bonds that eventually could be converted into a traditional IRA.

He'll also be raising the minimum wage for new federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour. It's a move that dovetails with Obama's call for an increase in the national minimum wage to $10.10, and for future increases to be tied to inflation.

House Speaker John Boehner notes that the increase is limited only to federal contractors, and he says the number of people who will benefit is "somewhere close to zero." He's also warning against raising the minimum wage nationally, arguing that "when you raise the cost of something, you get less of it." He says it would hurt the people Obama says he's trying to help.


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