At the second stop of his post-State of the Union road trip, President Obama on Wednesday officially established a new retirement plan for working Americans and promised his broader economic agenda will help rebuild a struggling middle class.
Just after speaking at the U.S. Steel plant outside Pittsburgh, the president signed an order establishing the so-called “MyRa” savings plans, which will allow workers to deposit money into a secure interest-earning account that is backed by “the full faith and credit of the United States government.”
It’s the latest step in Mr. Obama’s “year of action,” and he touted the fact that no congressional action was needed to establish the program.
“It’s a new type of savings bond that we can set up without legislation that encourages Americans to begin to build a nest egg,” the president said. “These account balances will never go down in value. They’re backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. You can open an account with as little as $25.”
The president’s proposal essentially offers all Americans access to the same type of interest-earning accounts that federal employees currently have. It would be a personal account (hence MY-ra) that would travel from job to job and neither be tied to any employer nor accrue penalties for early withdrawal.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Obama pushed a minimum-wage increase during a speech at a suburban Maryland Costco store. The events, on the heels of his State of the Union address Tuesday night, highlighted the two of the smaller, more targeted steps this administration will seek to take in the coming months to jump-start the economy and aid U.S. workers.
Mr. Obama plans to sign an executive order raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 for all federal contractors, although the number of people affected will be very small, and urged Congress to pass legislation to do the same for all workers.
Those moves, in conjunction with other initiatives, form what the president has dubbed the “opportunity agenda” for the middle class.
“This is the opportunity agenda that is going to help restore some sense of economic security in the 21st century economy. We want jobs that are more plentiful. We want skills that keep you employable. We want savings that are portable. We want health care that is yours and is not going to be canceled when you really need it,” Mr. Obama said.
“We want every American who works hard and takes responsibility to retire with dignity after decades of honest work. These are real, practical, achievable solutions to help shift the odds back a little bit in favor of more working, middle-class Americans,” he continued.
On Thursday, the president will continue promoting his economic plan with events in Wisconsin and Tennessee.