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Obama seeks minimum wage rise

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WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama called for raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour and warned he will use executive powers to get his way on issues from climate change to manufacturing if Congress does not act, laying out an assertive second-term agenda sure to provoke Republicans. 

In the first State of the Union address since winning re- election, Obama proposed making preschool available to all 4- year-olds, negotiating a new trade agreement with the European Union and spending $50 billion on urgent infrastructure projects. He lauded steps by companies including Apple Inc. and Ford Motor Co. to bring jobs back to the US.

"It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation," Obama said in the text of the speech delivered to a joint session of Congress.

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