President Barack Obama vowed on Tuesday to bypass a divided Congress and take action on his own to bolster America's middle class in a State of the Union address that he used to try to breathe new life into his second term after a troubled year.
Standing in the House of Representatives chamber before lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and VIP guests, Obama declared his independence from Congress by unveiling a series of executive orders and decisions - moves likely to inflame already tense relations between the Democratic president and Republicans. [...]
The wage hike for federal contract workers to $10.10 per hour, for example, will mean a pay raise for only about 560,000 federal contract workers.
That's only a tiny fraction of the number who would see bigger paychecks under stalled legislation to increase the minimum wage.
Some 3.6 million workers were paid the federal minimum wage in 2012. By comparison, only 560,000 are employed as federal contractors for $12 an hour or less, according to the think tank Demos. And Obama's executive order only affects new and renewed contracts.