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President Barack Obama hit the road Wednesday to press for the economic agenda he presented Monday night in his State of the Union speech.
At his first stop at a Costco store in Lanham, Md., Obama urged Congress to increase the federal minimum wage by 39 percent, but acknowledged that Congress might choose to not act on his proposal and that states might need to act on their own.
“To every governor, mayor, state legislator out there, if you want to take the initiative to raise your minimum wage laws to help more hard-working Americans make ends meet, then I’m going to be right there at your side,” Obama said.
He also told the crowd of Costco employees that he would sign an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay workers at least $10.10 an hour on new contracts.
“The defining project of our time of our generation is to restore opportunity for everybody,” he said.
He also said that “As Americans we understand some people are going to earn more than other people and we don’t resent those who – because they work hard, because they come up with a new idea – they achieve incredible success.”
Recalling his childhood and that of his wife Michelle, neither of whose families were wealthy, Obama told the audience "we didn't go around when we were growing up being jealous about folks who had made a lot of money – as long as if we were working hard we could have enough.”
He said Americans “overwhelmingly agree” that no one who works full time “should ever have to raise a family in poverty.”
Obama took time to praise Costco founder James Sinegal, a long-time Democratic donor, calling Sinegal “a great friend of mine and somebody who I greatly admire.” Sinegal said Costco has been successful because America is “a place where anyone can make it.”
Obama heads next to Pittsburgh to discuss his proposal for a new retirement accounts.