“We'll look to work with Congress where we can, but I think as we've seen over the last several years now, Congress sometimes is a little slow to action,” said McDonough in an interview on "CBS This Morning" previewing Obama's State of the Union address.
“We’re not going to wait for that because we believe the American people are looking for concrete, realistic proposals to see the kind of progress and opportunity for everybody,” he added.
President Obama’s domestic agenda stalled in 2013, but the White House says Obama will reveal an “ambitious” slate of policies and measures in his Tuesday night speech to Congress and the nation.
Obama has said that he will focus the rest of his second term on fighting income inequality. The president has also vowed that on a range of issues, he will push ahead with executive actions if lawmakers fail to act.
In his speech, Obama will announce an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
“Nobody who works full-time and works hard at their job should live in poverty. We think $10.10 an hour will allow them to do that,” said McDonough, urging Congress to raise the minimum wage for all federal employees across the board.
The chief of staff downplayed suggestions that the president's address would be a key opportunity for him to rally public support ahead of this year's crucial midterm elections.
“I don’t think the president thinks about it in terms of election or his legacy or anything else,” said McDonough. “I think he thinks about it in terms of making sure the American people have access to a good education, to skills and training, to good-paying jobs, the way he did as a young man, the kinds of opportunities he had as a young man to get in the position that he’s in now.”