- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday brought more evidence of how differently President Obama and congressional Republicans will approach this crucial election year, with the White House turning attention to its economic and income-equality agenda while the GOP remains focused on the health-care reform law and its fallout across the country.

In his weekly address, the president again pushed for a minimum wage hike — from $7.25 to $10.10 — for all Americans and highlighted the fact that he recently implemented such a pay raise for federal contractors through executive action.

But Rep. Tom Rooney, a Florida Republican who gave this week’s GOP address, didn’t mention the president’s minimum-wage push or any related issue, choosing instead to focus entirely on Obamacare.

The minimum wage increase for all Americans is a key piece of what Mr. Obama has dubbed the “opportunity agenda,” and unlike other parts of that agenda, it must go through Congress.

“Raising the minimum wage wouldn’t just raise their wages — its effect would lift wages for about 28 million Americans,” the president said. “It would lift millions of Americans out of poverty and help millions more work their way out of poverty without requiring a single dollar in new taxes or spending. It will give more businesses more customers with more money to spend, and that means growing the economy for everyone. You deserve to know where the people who represent you stand on this. If they don’t support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, ask them ‘why not?’”

Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats on the ballot this year want to make the minimum wage, and the broader issue of growing income inequality between the rich and poor in America, a top issue heading into the fall.

Meanwhile, Republicans are banking on the fact that Obamacare horror stories will continue to emerge between now and November, helping the party increase its majority in the House and possibly even capture the Senate.

“Constituents tell me they can no longer see the primary care physicians they have been going to for 10 and even 20 years. One woman told me that four of her specialists have already been dropped from her plan … In Florida’s heartland, seniors are now forced to drive an hour or more just to see a primary care doctor, let alone a specialist,” Mr. Rooney said. “This goes well beyond a glitch or a pocketbook issue. This is a breach of faith. The president’s promises have proven false for working families, and now they are proving false for our seniors as well.”

Mr. Rooney also called on colleagues and American citizens to “work together to repeal this law,” even though that effort has failed more than 40 times in the past.