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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Barack Obama vowed again on Wednesday to bypass a divided Congress and take action on his own to bolster America's middle class. Speaking to employees of a Costco in the Maryland community of Lanham, President Obama repeated the same call me made Tuesday night during his State of the Union speech. "Let's make sure hard work pays off. Now some of my ideas I will need Congress but American can't just stand still if Congress Obama has declared his independence from Congress by unveiling a series of executive orders and decisions - moves likely to inflame already tense relations between the Democratic president and Republicans. The orders include a wage hike for federal contract workers, creation of a "starter savings account" to help millions of people save for retirement, and plans to establish new fuel efficiency standards for trucks. isn't doing anything I'm not going to stand still either. Wherever I can take steps to expand opportunities for more families I'm going to do it, with or without Congress," Obama said. At the wholesaler Costco, whose CEO, Jim Sinegal, is a major Democratic donor and pays entry-level employees more than the minimum wage, Obama acknowledge the forthcoming executive order. "While Congress decides whether it's going to raise the minimum wage or not, people outside of Washington are not waiting for Congress, and I'm not either, so as the chief executive I'm going to lead by example. In the coming weeks I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay to pay their federally funded employees on new contracts a fair wage of at least 10 dollars and 10 cents an hour," Obama said. He said he was driven to act by the widening gap between rich and poor and the fact that while the stock market has soared, average wages have barely budged. Obama's governing strategy means he has scaled back ambitions for large legislative actions and wants to focus more on smaller-scale initiatives that can reduce income inequality and create more opportunities for middle-class workers. The wage hike for federal contract workers to $10.10 per hour, for example, will mean a pay raise for only about 560,000 federal contract workers. That's only a tiny fraction of the number who would see bigger paychecks under stalled legislation to increase the minimum wage. Some 3.6 million workers were paid the federal minimum wage in 2012.
Jan. 29 - U.S. President Barack Obama says congress will not keep him from raising minimum wage. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). ( Transcript )
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