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Obama will throw down the gauntlet tonight

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WASHINGTON — Challenging lawmakers to help him create greater economic opportunity, President Barack Obama will use tonight’s State of the Union address to announce he’s raising the minimum wage for new federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour, underscoring a go-it-alone strategy in an election year critical to Democrats’ hopes for retaining Senate control.

Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress will be wrapped in a unifying theme: The federal government can play a key role in increasing opportunities for Americans who have been left behind, unable to benefit from a recovering economy.

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