By The Associated Press
President Barack Obama urged Congress to help restore opportunity for
Americans but pledged to take action himself Tuesday in his fifth State
of the Union address before Congress. Some highlights from Obama's
economic and other proposals:
--MINIMUM WAGE: An executive order to raise minimum wage paid by
federal contractors to $10.10. He called on Congress to increase the
federal minimum wage for all workers to $10.10. Last year, Obama asked
Congress to raise the rate to $9 by the end of 2015, but Congress has
not taken that step.
--RETIREMENT SECURITY: Create a new savings account program to help
people start saving for retirement. Obama is asking the Treasury to
create a bond called MyRA that can be offered through employers as a
"starter" retirement account. Call for Congress to create automatic IRAs
for all workers who don't opt out. Obama has included this in previous
budget requests but Congress hasn't acted on it.
--IMMIGRATION: Renew call for Congress to pass comprehensive
immigration overhaul this year, including a path to citizenship for
about 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Bipartisan
legislation has passed the Senate, but the House prefers a piecemeal
approach. House Republicans are meeting this week and are expected to
outline their principles for an immigration overhaul.
--CLIMATE AND ENERGY: Set new fuel efficiency standards for trucks.
Introduce first-of-its-kind emissions limits on power plants. Work with
states and communities on climate change resiliency and cutting
pollution. Cut red tape to help states build factories that use natural
gas. Propose new incentives for trucks that use alternative fuels like
natural gas. Urge Congress to end tax benefits for the oil industry and
use revenues to invest in advanced vehicles that use cleaner fuels.
--TAXES: Expand the earned-income tax credit, which helps boost the
wages of low-income families through tax refunds. Some Republicans and
conservative economists have called for similar expansion of the credit.
Overhaul tax code to eliminate wasteful loopholes while lowering rates
for businesses to incentivize hiring in the U.S.
--HEALTHCARE: Encourage Americans without insurance to sign up through new exchanges by March 31 deadline. Urge Republicans to give up attempts to repeal Obama's health care law.
--EDUCATION: Connect 15,000 schools and 20 million students with
high-speed broadband in the next two years. Award grants to redesign
winning high schools to prepare students for today's job market. Improve
access for low-income students and lower costs. Renew call to Congress
to fund universal preschool.
--JOBS: Launch more high-tech manufacturing hubs, in addition to two
that were launched this year. Direct Vice President Joe Biden to lead
review of federal job-training programs. Partner with leading U.S.
companies to help long-term unemployed.
--AFGHANISTAN: Wind down war in Afghanistan by removing most troops
and completing mission by end of this year. Work to negotiate security
agreement with Afghanistan so small force can remain to train Afghan
forces and pursue al-Qaida.
--FIGHTING TERRORISM: Limit use of drones in foreign countries.
Overhaul U.S. surveillance programs to restore public confidence. Renew
call for Congress to lift transfer restrictions so Guantanamo Bay prison
can be closed.
--IRAN: Pursue negotiations with Iran toward a long-term nuclear
deal. Threaten to veto new sanctions that Congress passes during ongoing
nuclear talks. Vow to push for more sanctions if talks with Iran don't