Obama speech to challenge Congress on minimum wage

By Jim Kuhnhenn

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28 2014 2:06 p.m. MST

Among those actions is a new retirement savings plan geared toward workers whose employers don't currently offer such plans. The program would allow first-time savers to start building up savings in Treasury bonds that eventually could be converted into a traditional IRAs, according to two people who have discussed the proposal with the administration. Those people weren't authorized to discuss it ahead of the announcement and insisted on anonymity.

The White House says the hike in minimum pay for federal contract workers would most benefit janitors and construction workers working under new federal contracts, as well as military base workers who wash dishes, serve food and do laundry. The White House says contractors will have time to take the higher minimum wage into account when pricing their bids.

Obama's go-it-alone approach has already irritated Republicans.

"We're going to watch very closely because there's a Constitution that we all took an oath to, including him," Boehner said Tuesday.

Obama will follow his address with a quick trip Wednesday and Thursday to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Tennessee to promote his proposals. On Friday, Obama will hold an event at the White House where he'll announce commitments from several companies to not discriminate against the long-term unemployed during hiring.

Following tradition, the White House has invited several people to sit with first lady Michelle Obama during Tuesday night's address. Among them are General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Cristian Avila of Phoenix, an immigrant who with two younger siblings was brought to the U.S. illegally when Avila was 9. Now 23, Avila has benefited from an Obama policy allowing young people who immigrated illegally with their parents to avoid deportation. Other guests include two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing and Jason Collins, an openly gay former NBA player.

Boehner's guests include employers in his district who he says are struggling under Obama's national health care overhaul.

Associated Press writers Donna Cassata and Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

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