Obama pushes stimulus, minimum wage increase

President Obama used his weekly address on Saturday to recap ideas from the State of the Union that have little chance of passing Congress anytime soon, including more stimulus spending proposals and a pitch to increase the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.

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The president said that, taken as a package, his ideas will lead to a thriving middle class.

“Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions: How do we bring good jobs to America? How do we equip people with the skills those jobs require? And how do we make sure your hard work leads to a decent living?,” he said.

Obama aid that to boost manufacturing, the United States should “launch manufacturing hubs,” increase investments in research and technology and increase infrastructure spending.

Obama also reiterated his call for guaranteeing high-quality preschool for all, a proposition that could cost billions of dollars.

“No one in America should work full-time and raise their children in poverty. So let’s raise the minimum wage so that it’s a wage you can live on,” he said.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) this week ruled out an increase of the minimum wage.

Obama reiterated that that the new investments can be done while reducing the deficit and that the goal should be some $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction.

“We don’t have to choose between the two – we just have to make smart choices,” Obama said. “Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion – which puts us more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances. Now we need to finish the job.”

Republicans, such as House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said this week that Obama is deluded to think the $4 trillion goal is sufficient to avoid a debt crisis.

Obama’s weekly address also calls for comprehensive immigration reform and a reform of the corporate tax code, two projects that have a somewhat higher chance of passage in a divided Congress.

“And it’s time to harness the talents and ingenuity of hardworking immigrants by finally passing comprehensive immigration reform – securing our borders, establishing a responsible path to earned citizenship, and attracting the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs,” he said.

Bipartisan groups in the Senate and House are said to be making progress on an approach to immigration reform.