Tuesday, January 26

Middle Class Initiative Recommendations from the Middle Class Task Force

President Obama and Vice President Biden held a meeting with the Middle Class Task Force yesterday, January 25, 2010.

They laid out key investments for middle class families. The discussion was a preview one of the key themes of the President’s State of the Union address, which include creating good jobs, addressing the deficit, changing Washington, and fighting for middle class families.

President Obama said, “We are fighting every single day to put Americans back to work, create good jobs, and strengthen our economy for the long-term. The additional steps laid out today focus on easing the burdens on middle class families who are struggling in this economy, and providing the help they need to get ahead.”

“Every day, middle class families go to work and help make this country great. For a year, our Task Force has been hearing that they are struggling with soaring costs and squeezed family budgets. These common sense initiatives will help these families cope with these challenges,” said Vice President Biden.

Since its creation one year ago this week, the Middle Class Task Force has held 11 meetings around the country and at the White House. As a result of these meetings, conversations and feedback from around the country, the Vice President and the Task Force will propose several policy initiatives to help middle class families:

1.Nearly Doubling the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for middle class families making under $85,000 a year. This is accomplished by increasing their tax credit rate from 20% to 35% of qualifying expenses. The value of the tax credit nearly doubles for all families making under $85,000 a year, and every family that makes under $115,000 will see their tax credit increase.

Additionally, for families struggling to join the middle class, the administration will provide a $1.6 billion increase in child care funding, the largest one-year increase in 20 years, to help an additional 235,000 children.

2.Limiting a student’s federal loan payments to 10 percent of his or her income above a basic living allowance. This will lower payments for hundreds of thousands of students, who are struggling to make ends meet coming out of college.

3.Creating a system of automatic workplace IRAs, requiring all employers to give the option for employees to enroll in a direct-deposit IRA.

4.Expanding tax credits to match retirement savings and enacting new safeguards to protect retirement savings, making it easier for families to plan for retirement.

5.Expanding support for families balancing work with caring for elderly relatives, helping them manage their multiple responsibilities and allowing seniors to live in the community for as long as possible.

The Task Force is Chaired by Vice President Joe Biden. It is made up of a group of high level administration policy makers, who are expected to develop policies designed to raise the living standards of middle-class, working families in America.

The members of the Task Force include:
Vice President Biden, Chair; the Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Energy, Treasury, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Agriculture; the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; as well as the Directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Policy Council, and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

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