- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 22, 2014

For the second week in a row, President Obama used his weekly address to push for a hike in the nation’s minimum wage while Republicans tried to keep Obamacare — and the negative effects of it — front and center.

The dueling strategies are a reflection of the paths both sides are likely to take heading into the crucial midterm elections, with the White House pushing its income-equality agenda and the president painting himself as an ally of the middle class.

Republicans, on the other hand, are intent on keeping the focus on the president’s signature health-care reform law in the hopes its fallout will hurt Democrats in the fall.

In his address, Mr. Obama again called on Congress to pass legislation raising the national minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25; he’s already signed an executive order to that effect for all federal contractors.

The president also said Congress should follow the lead of private companies such as Gap, Inc., which voluntarily have increased employees’ salaries.

“Right now, there’s a bill before Congress that would boost America’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. That’s easy to remember — ten-ten. That bill would lift wages for more than 16 million Americans without requiring a single dollar in new taxes or spending,” the president said. “But even though a majority of Democrats, Independents and Republicans across the country support raising the minimum wage, Republicans in Congress don’t want to give it a vote.

Hardworking Americans deserve better than a ‘no.’ Let’s tell Congress to say ‘yes.’ Pass that bill. Give America a raise.”

In the Republican address, Rep. Tom Cotton told the story of a constituent named Elizabeth who saw her premiums rise by 85 percent, he said, as a result of Obamacare.

“Shes stopped shopping at locally owned businesses because she can’t afford their prices, so Obamacare is hurting her local community, too,” said Mr. Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who also is running to unseat his state’s Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor.

“For Elizabeth — and countless other Arkansans just like her — Obamacare is anything but an amazing success story. Her story shows us that this law and the president’s policies are fundamentally flawed … Republicans in Congress are committed to stopping the harms cased by the president’s policies, repairing the damage and getting America working again.”

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